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Mr Love Time's Will

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CHARACTERS

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~ Brooke ~

Age: 28

Height: 1.64m

Birthday: 15th of March

Zodiac: Pisces

Occupation: Famous Author

Evol: Weapon Creation

Appearance: Long brown hair that goes down to mid-back and is normally half up with a brain crown and chocolate eyes. Pale skin and a voluptuous figure. Her most common attire consists of black boots, dark blue jeans, a white long-sleeve shirt with a quote on it hidden under a slightly over-sized cable-knit white sweater with three stipes of dark blue, dark yellow and aqua on the bottom. 

 

~ Nyla ~

Age: 26

Height: 1.70m

Birthday: 10th of September

Zodiac: Virgo

Occupation: Surgical Doctor

Evol: Telekinesis

Appearance: Long white hair that has a small braid on the right side and deep ocean blue eyes. Pale skin and a slender figure. Her most common attire consists of a white lab coat over top dark blue scrubs with purple sneakers or brown boots, black jeans, a white loose-fitting top and a long beige cardigan.

 

~ Tessa ~

Age: 24

Height: 1.68m

Birthday: 3rd of October

Zodiac: Libra

Occupation: Police Officer

Evol: Barrier Creation

Appearance: Short messy brown hair with blonde highlights that is styled as an asymmetrical bob cut with the left side longer than the right and emerald eyes. Tan skin and a curvaceous figure. Her most common attire is her police uniform switch consists of black boots, black work pants, a black belt and a light blue police button shirt with a loose black tie. Outside of work, she wears dark blue sneakers, light blue denim jeans with a brown belt and a blue and grey striped long sleeve under a green bomber jacket.

 

~ Aria ~

Age: 22

Height: 1.62m

Birthday: 28th of May

Zodiac: Gemini

Occupation: Superstar/Figure Skater

Evol: Superspeed

Appearance: Short, wavy blonde hair that stops at her neck with the tips paler than the rest of her hair and a pink headband and bright pink eyes. Tan skin and a flat figure. Her most common attire consists of white converse, beige socks, a white flowing skirt, off the one-shoulder flounce pastel blue top with flowers on it with an oversized yellow coat that hangs off the shoulders over top.

 

~ Victor ~

Age: 28

Height: 1.83m

Birthday: 13th of January

Zodiac: Capricorn

Occupation: LFG CEO

Evol: Time Control

 

~ Lucien

Age: 26 

Height: 1.80m 

Birthday: 15th of November 

Zodiac: Scorpio 

Occupation: Genius Scientist 

Evol: Unknown

 

~ Gavin ~

Age: 24

Height: 1.81m

Birthday: 29th of July

Zodiac: Leo

Occupation: Evol Agent

Evol: Wind Control

 

~ Kiro ~

Age: 22

Height: 1.76m

Birthday: 9th of April

Zodiac: Aries

Occupation: Superstar

Evol: Absolute Charm

Chapter Text

<{~*~Victor x Brooke~*~}>

(Monday 13th, April)

Why were all the buildings so tall? Like really tall. Her apartment building was 30 stories, new and her 'friend' had decided to make her new apartment the top one. Standing on the sidewalk, Brooke continued to stare up at her new home. It was hard to believe that this was where she would be living for an unknown amount of time. She closed her eyes and let out an exhausted sigh, her friend sure did have expensive taste. Good thing she could afford the rent; otherwise, it would make for very temporary accommodation.

She turned her back to the building and started her journey. She'd moved in yesterday and was now taking her tiny medium-haired tuxedo coloured kitten to the vet for a check-up and to be microchipped. She'd rescued her from the streets in her old town when she was two months old, all dirty and thin. Now, a month later, the kitten was back to full health, and she'd officially adopted her, named her Haya, and they'd moved to Loveland City.

Brooke stopped at a crossing, waiting for the lights to turn green and held the cage she was carrying up to her face to see Haya sitting at the door, posture relaxed and eyes curious. It was the same cage she'd rescued her in and the only one the kitten wasn't afraid of. Granted, no cat liked being put in a cage, but Haya tolerated this one. The kitten offered her a meow and held her paw up in a little wave, and Brooke smiled. She was so adorable.

The lights turned green, and Brooke began to cross with everyone else. Her phone began to vibrate, and she stopped in the middle of the crossing to fish it out of her pocket. A distance car beeping halted her, and she looked in the distance to see a car rushing towards her very quickly. A brief glance at the lights told her they were still green, and the driver was going way to fast to stop in time. She made to move out of the way when everything around her froze like time had stopped.

And she was suddenly in someone's arms. She looked up to see a handsome young, well-built man with black hair and violet-blue eyes wearing a well-fitted black suit holding her in his arms. She couldn't hold back a gasp, and he looked down, locking his eyes with hers, a trace of surprise came over his. "Evolver?" He inquired in a deep voice, and Brooke blinked. What did she being an evolver have to do with what was happening?

Her eyes went to the world around her, taking in the leaves hanging in the air, the cars no longer driving and the people standing still, frozen in action. She gaze went back to the man, and she offered him a small nod to his question, confirming what he probably already knew. "Do you-" But he stopped himself from saying more. "Never mind. You should forget about what I said, and you better forget that this ever happened." He said with annoyance and Brooke blinked again. Who was this guy?

"I..." She started but trailed off. What was she going to say? He frowned

"You should watch yourself. Somebody won't come to your rescue every time." She frowned. She knew that. She knew that fact better than everyone.

He put her down on the sidewalk, and when she turned to thank the man, he was gone and time had resumed. The car that had been about to hit her drove past, and she quickly took down the number plate, just in case. Her phone was still vibrating, and she put the whole incident aside, grabbing out her phone and answering the call. It was her boss.

~~~~~

He was a dead man. Totally and utterly dead. Who did he think he was? Calling her to have a meeting on the day she moved in of all days? And it's not like he didn't know that was today because he totally did, in fact, he had recommended it be today. Slowing down a bit, Brooke sighed. It was pointless to get work up over something so small, but she was mad, damn it. Today was meant to be relaxing and non-stressful. She was meant to be touring Loveland, familiarising herself with her new home not rushing off to the Loveland Financial Group's building to have a last-minute meeting with her boss.

Why did he want to have the meeting at LFG anyway? Wasn't Loveland Publishing House much closer? Brooke stopped walking and looked up, spotting the building she was heading to almost immediately. At least it stands out. And it was close to her new place. She looked back down and continued pouting. At least Haya was okay. She was glad she'd been heading to the vet when he'd called her, it means she could leave the kitten at the vet until she was done.

She pulled out her phone and checked the time. The vet had said the check-up would take a half-hour but that Haya could be picked up when she was finished with this meeting. It was now 10:40, meaning she had twenty minutes to reach LFG. While her boss, Mr Heralds, wouldn't really care if she was a couple minutes late, Brooke wanted to get back to Haya as soon as possible. She put her phone back before noticing a silhouette out of the corner of her eye.

It was the same guy who'd been following her for about a block. She'd hoped he'd keep on walking when she stopped, but he hadn't, which meant she was most likely his target. Brooke sighed, she no doubt had that 'new to the city' air about her to be targeted by a mugger so easy. She continued walking, acting like she hadn't noticed him. He continued walking as well though as she neared the end of the block, he began to speed up. Brooke acted like any ordinary panicked civilian would and rushed into a nearby alley after pretending to finally spot him.

She leaned up against the wall and pretend to catch her breath. He rounded the corner a minute later, and when he spotted her, a sickening grin sprouted on his lips, causing a real shiver to run down her spine. Men could be so creepy sometimes. She faked a panicked look and made to move further down the alley when he rushed forward and forced her up against the wall. She held in a groan as pain shot up her back and watched his grin grow bigger "Where are you going, baby?" he asked, voice husky.

This guy clearly had more on his mind then mugging. Brooke bit back an insult and considered her options. She couldn't do anything that would cause attention, that would defeat the purpose of moving to Loveland in the first place, meaning no Evol usage. Instead, she fought against his grip and opened her mouth to cry out like she was truly scared and, as predicted, he covered her mouth with his hand. "Uh, I don't think so." He smirked and put his thigh between her legs "You and I are gonna have some fun." She narrowed her eyes, glaring daggers into his eyes.

His hand went to her top, and she quickly looked at the entrance of the alley, eyes widening in more fear like something unbelievably scary was there. Her assailant fell for it and looked too, and that's when she took her chance. She bit his hand hard, and he cried out in pain, wrenching his hand from her mouth, she then grabbed his shoulders and kneed him somewhat hard in his exposed crotch, and he grunted in pain, stumbling back, allowing her to spill away. She watched as the mugger got on his knees, holding his crotch and glared viciously at her.

"B-Bitch!" He grunted again in pain "You'll p-pay." He made to get up but never got the chance. She quickly moved and using her the side of her hand, hit him forcefully across the face, sending him to the ground, unconscious. She blinked then stood up straighter, a frown on her face. He clearly wasn't a very good mugger to have let his guard down so easy. Brooke sighed and shook her head before reaching into her back pocket and pulling out her phone.

She dialled the police and reported what had happened. After hanging up, she looked back down at the man and crouched beside him, eyes running over his body. He possessed no tattoos or scars to indicate he was a part of a gang or cult, his clothes were flat and even, showing no trace of hiding any kind of weapon. Brooke closed her eyes in relief and stood back up. Seemed he was just a noob who thought intimidation and strength would be enough. She proved him wrong.

The police arrived a moment later, and Brooke recited her tale though she told them he'd pushed her into the alley instead of her leading him there. They confirmed her suspicious of him being a multiple offender though this was the first time he been so bold and tried something else. She promised to come back later and file an official report. After saying goodbye, Brooke took out her phone and shouted in surprise at the time. It was 10:50, and LFG was still at least 15 minutes away. She put her phone away and booked it, rushing along the street.

8 minutes later she arrived out front the LFG, panting slightly, internally grateful for her unnaturally high stamina. She used the reflection of a window to quickly tidied up her long brown hair, patting the braids that kept her hair half up and ran her hands down her face to be sure there was no sweat. She then took in a deep breath and strode towards LFG's entrance where a bunch of businesspeople seemed to continually be going in and out.

By the time she'd gotten through security and reached the elevator, she was only running a couple minutes late. Silently thanking the fact her boss didn't care about tardiness, she patiently waited for the elevator to reach her floor. This sudden meeting better be worth it, or there will be hell to pay. She heard the dinged and looked up only to see the elevator hadn't reached her floor. The doors opened, and a man wearing glasses and a brown messenger bag hoped on. He looked to be out of breath.

He pressed the top floor before leaning against the wall, trying to catch his breath. Brooke offered him a smile, and he returned it with a small one of his own. It was then that's she noticed all the documents he was carrying. Must be an assistant then. She went back to studying the pale floor of the elevator. The elevator then dinged a second time, and she looked up to see it'd reached her floor. She offered the out of breath man a wave before getting off and heading towards the agreed conference room.

Turning the corner, she spotted Mr Heralds sitting in a conference room with glass walls having a conversation with a pudgy, bolding man. They were laughing as if they were the funniest people in this world. She took in a deep breath and pushed down any feelings of anger and annoyance before making her way over. She knocked on the door and opened it, gaining the attention of both men. Mr Heralds grinned.

"Brooke!" He got up from his chair and made his way around the table "There she is! There's my shining superstar!" She smiled at his boisterous actions and walked into the room, meeting the man halfway. He pulled her into a hug, and she chuckled slightly but returned it. Even though he was annoying and impulsive, Mr Heralds was still an awesome boss and a good friend. She pulled away, and he gripped her shoulder, a genuine smile appearing on his face "How have you been?"

She scoffed "Good, though I would be better if someone would stop calling sudden meetings like this." Despite her teasing tone, her boss flinched and let her go.

"Yeah well, this time it's important." She raised my eyebrow at him.

"So the others weren't?" She teased, and he shook his head.

"No, this one just has a higher amount of importance." He raised his hand to emphasis his point, and she chuckled.

"I hope so. I got mugged on the way over here." Shock and worry passed over Mr Heralds features and he opened his mouth, but she waved him off before he could say anything "Don't worry, it was nothing. I'm fine, and besides, I can handle myself, remember?" Mr Heralds frowned but didn't press the issue, instead, turning to the other occupant in the room.

"Mr Bailey, this is Brooke Rosette, the gem of Loveland Publishing House although you would most likely know her under the pen name Ariana Night." Mr Bailey got up from his seat and made his way over, a business smile on his face.

"Yes, I've heard about and read some of your work, Miss Rosette." He held out his hand. "It's an honour to meet you." She gripped his hand and returned a small smile.

"I'm pleased to meet you and Brooke's fine. Miss Rosette is my sister." She said and let go of his hand, Mr Bailey nodded his head in understanding before Mr Heralds stepped forward and gripped Mr Bailey shoulder.

"Mr Bailey here is on the board. This guy helps determine which companies get investments or not." Brooke nodded her head, pretending to totally understand what that meant. They engaged in small talk for a few more minutes before Mr Herald glanced at his watch. "Ah sorry, Mr Bailey but Brooke and I have a meeting scheduled with the big boss and we best not be late." Mr Bailey nodded his understanding, and they said their goodbyes.

Mr Heralds directed her out of the conference room and towards the elevator. "The big boss?" She questioned, and he pressed the up button.

"With the CEO, Victor." She gave Mr Heralds a confused look. Why would she need to meet him? He sighed. "During our investment meeting this morning, he insisted on meeting one of the authors we handled as 'clarity' and, since your one of our best and now live in Loveland City, I figured you'd be the best choice." The elevator doors opened, and they stepped on.

"Okay, but you could have told me that over the phone, I could've come prepared." Mr Herald shook his head and smiled.

"No need. You're at your most charming when yourself." The elevator reached the CEO's floor, and they stepped off "Why do you think everyone always loves your acceptance speeches? Or why your our number one author?" She smiled at Mr Herald's compliments, and they made their way down the hall to the door of the CEO's office. Mr Heralds glanced at his watch before taking a deep breath and knocking on the door. A deep 'come in' sounded from the other side and he opened the door, allowing Brooke to enter first. She walked in and looked around.

Only to see the same young man who had saved her life earlier that day leaning over his desk, signing document after document, she gasped and muttered 'time freezer' under her breath. The man must have heard her because his pen stopped and she quickly looked away, doing a scan of the room instead and saw the assistant from the elevator standing in the corner sorting out documents of his own. She turned her attention back to the CEO and found him looking at her with a hard gaze. Mr Heralds moved ahead of Brooke.

"As I promised, here is one of our author's." He pointed a hand at her. "This is Brooke Rosette, she writes under the pen name Ariana Night. She is one of our most accomplished authors." Victor hardened his gaze at the author.

"Why do you write under a pen name?" His tone was sort of accusing, and Brooke resisted the urge to stand straighter under that deep scrutinising tone. It was so different from how he'd talked to her early. She cleared her throat.

"Well, since I started writing at a young age, it was easier to stay under the radar." She wasn't even lying, she'd just left out the main reason. Victor's eyes narrowed as if the answer displeased him, and he muttered something similar to 'pathetic' under his breath. She fought the urge to insult him back and continued on. "It also allows me to pursue other interests." Victor raised his eyebrows.

"Such as?" he inquired and Brooke smiled.

"Leading an underground cult that worships cats." She said joyfully and saw Mr Heralds smile out of the corner of her eye though Victor's mouth didn't move. He ignored her joke and continued with his interrogation because that's what it was—an interrogation.

"So, you're well accomplished in the publishing industry?" She looked at Victor, head slightly titled and nodded.

"Yes, I am." He levelled that cold stare at her before offering a small smirk.

"Then write something for me." She blinked at him. Huh? Mr Heralds frowned too and went to open his mouth, but Victor shot him a look, and he quickly closed it. "I want you to write something for me. It can be about what you want as long as it has some relevance to Loveland Publishing House." She gave him a confused look.

"I don't understand." He closed his eyes in irritation and frowned.

"Then you're a moron." She once again held back a retort and tried a different angle.

"What I meant was I don't understand what this has to do with the investment." He opened his eyes, and that smirk returned.

"For an author, you suck at phrasing your words." She didn't hold back her glare this time, and he chuckled "Experiencing your writing first hand without the influence of an editor, media or critics allows me to get an insight into the company you work for I couldn't get by reading your published work." Even though she didn't like it, it sort of made sense. Well, not really but finance was something she'd never understood like politics. Sighing, she gave a quick glance at Mr Heralds before closing her eyes and nodding her head in defeat.

"Okay. I'll do it." The frown returned full force on Victor's face.

"Good. You have two days." She opened my eyes and look at CEO in shock. Does this jerk have any idea how much time and effort goes into writing an article, let alone a book? "It must be at least five pages long and have relevance to Loveland Publishing House or the investment. Goldman will email you the details. You can hand-deliver it to me in two days." He then went back to signing documents, effectively telling them to leave. But damn it, Brooke was pissed and had a few things to say.

Fighting back the urge to go over there and slap the CEO, she planted her feet and crossed her arms instead. "I'm sorry sir but two days is unacceptable" Victor looked up in slight shock.

"What?" He asked, tone hard, but Brooke ignored it and continued.

"Writing your article in two days is unacceptable. That would be like telling someone to fully paint a house in a day. Possible but the end result would be sloppy and not be a true reflection of the painter's skills." She met the CEO's stare. "If you want me to write something that reflects LPH's skills, then I need more than two days. Six days at least.

Victor stared at her for a couple of seconds before frowning "Four days." Four days. She could write a kick-ass article in four days, she'd done it with less.

"Done." Victor nodded, frown still present, before going back to his documents. Satisfied, she turned around and went to walk out when she heard a quiet 'idiot'. She couldn't hold back the insult she muttered as his assistant extorted them out of the room. "All that frowning is going to make you look like an old man, jerk."

~~~~~

Victor looked up as the insult reached his ears, but they'd already left. He put down his pen and stared down at the document on his desk, his lips quirking despite himself at her insult. When he'd ask Mr Heralds to introduce him to one of his authors, he'd expected a middle age person with years of experience. Not the beautiful young woman with long brown hair, wide brown eyes and an inexperienced air about her that had entered his office. The same one he'd rescued earlier. He honestly found it hard to believe the girl had any accomplishments at all. She seemed like such a dummy when she'd mixed up her words.

She was unbelievably cute, though. Victor's lips twitched as he remembered the way she was flustered with anger and the glare she'd levelled him was pretty impressive too. Her joyful smile, that silly joke, the dumbfounded look she'd had given him when he'd told her the time frame and the way she'd fought against his decision only cemented the idea that she was a moron in his head. He'd no doubt have to do research on her when he got off work tonight.

~~~~~

Brooke was watching Haya play with a tiny stuffed mouse on her bed when her phone vibrated with an incoming text. She put down the bowl of ice cream she was enjoying, which she'd totally earned after nearly getting run over and assaulted in the same day by the way, and picked up her phone, seeing the text was from an unknown number. She groaned. What did he want now?

She unlocked her phone and opened up the text.

Don't forget, you have only four days - V

She frowned. Victor? But why was he reminding her of her deadline? And why did he have her number? She huffed and wrote out her reply.

Mr CEO! Hello! Why do you have my number? - B

It wasn't that hard to obtain. - V

Meaning her boss had given it to him. She shook her head, smiling at the image of Mr Heralds cowering before a scowling Victor, handing over her number fearfully.

Don't worry, sir, I'll write you the best article you've ever read. - B

I'm looking forward to the results. - V

You have my number too now. If you can't complete your end of the deal, feel free to beg. - V

She decided not to justify him with an answer on that one and closed her phone. Haya was still playing with her mouse though she'd moved closer to her owner. Brooke sighed and picked her bowl of ice cream back up. Oh man, what had she gotten herself into...


<{~*~Lucien x Nyla~*~}>

(Tuesday 14th, April)

Today was the day—the day of fresh starts, of new beginnings. Today was the day she officially moved. At least it would be if the landlord would pick up his phone. Sighing, Nyla clicked on his contact info once again and held the phone up to her ear, listening to the ringing and closing her eyes when it went to voice message again. Man, what could he possibly be doing?

Putting her phone in her pocket, she stared up at the tall apartment building before her. Her new home. Or at least it will be as soon as she got the key. The receptionist hadn't had it when she'd tried to check-in, and now here she was. Locked out of her new apartment on the day she was supposed to officially move in. Despite the situation, she couldn't help but laugh at her misfortune. A few people passing by looked at her strangely, but she was used to that by now.

Once her laughing fit was over, Nyla decided to wait for the landlord in the lobby and entered the building, finding a nice empty seat by the elevator to sit down and wait on. She opened her messenger bag and took out one of her patient files. She officially started back at work tomorrow and wanted to be as prepared as possible. She sat there for a good ten minutes, reading over things she already knew. Good thing it was only 8:40, and she had nothing to do all day. Lost in reading the file, she didn't notice that a figure had crept up in front of her, not until a cough sounded.

She quickly straightened up and lowered the file, posture tense only to see the overweight landlord she'd been trying to get in contact with the entire morning. She relaxed slightly and put the file back in her messenger bag then stood up. He grinned widely at her, and she could see he was missing a tooth. "Ya must be Nyla?" He questioned, voice gruff, smelling of smoke and heavy with an accent. She resisted the urge to step back and instead moved around him, so her back was to the lobby.

"Indeed, I am." She said kindly as he took her hand. She nearly flinched at how sweaty it was.

"I'm sorry about not answerin' ya calls. My phone went flat ya see" She nodded her understanding and let go of his hand, this time taking a small step back. He reached into his pocket and held out a pair of keys "These are ya keys. We give out two pairs in case there's someone ya wanna allow into ya place when ya not there. We also keep a spare one at the desk."

She reached out and grabbed the keys "Thank you." She said, offering him a small smile. The overweight man nodded and grinned.

"No problem, now if ya'll excuse me." He bowed his head slightly before walking away, not giving Nyla a chance to respond. She looked down at the keys in her hand before looking up at the elevator. She gripped her messenger bag and pressed the button for the elevator. It opened with a ding, and she pressed the 16th floor. It was a 20 story apartment building, one of the newer ones close to the hospital. She leaned against the wall and watched as the numbers climbed, a small smile playing on her lips.

The elevator reached her floor, and she stepped out. There were only two apartment complex's on the 16th floor, and since the elevator went up the middle of the building, she had the one on the left side. Nyla quickly glanced at the door on the right side before making her way to her door. She put the key into the lock, turning it and hearing it unlock. She glanced down at her feet and muttered a quiet 'this is it' before looking back up at the door. That was when the one behind her opened.

Turning around, she watched as a handsome young man with dark brown hair and violet eyes dressed in a lab coat exited the opposing apartment, a look of surprise crossed his features when he saw Nyla, but it soon vanished, and he nodded at her. She smiled at him "Hello! You must be my new neighbour."

He blinked before smiling "Oh, and what makes you say that?" he asked, voice velvety and a bit deep. She blinked at him, and he continued "I could just be visiting a friend." His tone was teasing, and while she was sure he was only joking, she still stuttered her response

"Umm, w-well..." She was feeling slightly flushed and struggled to come up with a sensible answer. Her reaction seemed to only make him happier, and he chuckled slightly.

"I'm only teasing," He said and walked closer to Nyla, the slight height difference between them becoming more apparat. "Yes, I am your new neighbour." He didn't offer a name, merely smiling happily at her. She smiled back and turned to fully face him.

"I'm Nyla," She glanced at his attire "Are you late for work?" She asked, and he nodded his head.

"Yes. I accidentally lost track of time." He put his hands in his pocket and continuing smiling kindly but remotely at her as if she was a strange new being he was inspecting.

"Are you a scientist? Do you work at the local laboratory?" She asked, and he nodded his head.

"Yes, I'm also a professor at the university." He expanded, and her smile brightened.

"Ooh, a professor! That's cool, do they call you 'Professor' there?" She inquired, the 'professor' a tone deeper, and he chuckled slightly, bringing his hand to his face in thought.

"Why yes they do," He said before leaning down slightly, so their faces were closer "But you can just call me Lucien." He said coolly, and Nyla's face began to feel a little hot at their proximity. A tiny beeping sound broke the atmosphere, and Lucien leaned back. Nyla reached into her messenger bag and felt around for her pager. She took it out and looked at the messenger. Code red. Lucien followed her hand and looked at it with curiosity. Nyla's eyes widened.

"Oh my gosh! An emergency!" She glanced up at Lucien "I'm being called into work." Lucien watched her with some sort of fascination, his smile seemed to be warmer than before.

"I see, well then, I best not keep your co-workers waiting. I apologise for holding you up." He said, and Nyla shook her head.

"Don't be, besides I've probably held you up and made you even later for work as well so we're both at fault!" She said brightly, and he nodded.

"Yes, I suppose that is true," He said warmly but made no move to leave. "Though I don't really mind being held up if it means I can continue to talk with you a little longer." He said quietly, and she looked at him with confusion.

"What do you mean?" He shook his head and took a step back.

"Never mind. You best go get ready now." He said, and she smiled before turning and opening her door. She offered Lucien a wave before rushing into her apartment. When she left a couple of minutes later, night-bag packed and lab coat on, he was gone.

~~~~~

When she'd arrived at the hospital, it'd been hectic. The ER had been swarmed with victims from a multi-pile car crash, and while they hadn't lost anyone yet, it was still too soon to see if it would stay that way. Nyla had been called in because of a lack of hands and had quickly been rushed into surgery, not having time to change into scrubs. She'd been called out multiple times until being put in charge of the ER when the clock struck 12pm.

That was two hours ago and her clothes now smelt of smoke, blood and disinfectant. When she'd finally scored a 10-minute break, she almost felt like crying and immediately went to change out of her clothes, feeling much better in her dark blue scrubs and her back-up lab coat. She'd stopped by the cafe and brought an energy bar as she hadn't eaten anything since 8am. Smiling sweetly at the cafe lady, she quickly paid and jogged back to the ER, eating her energy bar along the way.

She got to the ER and saw it was full of people this time, though none of them looked to have any fatal injuries. She walked over to the information desk, glancing at the TV screen above that showcased all the patients' data, their names and colour rank, if they had been looked at, if they needed surgery or were currently having surgery. She looked back down to the resident desk nurse, Mira, who was sorting patient charts "What came in?"

The nurse looked up and smiled at Nyla. "An experiment gone wrong at the local research lab." Nyla nodded in understanding and watched as a woman in a white lab got directed to one of the free bed by a surgical resident, clothes filthy. She looked a bit irritated. Mira sighed. "Prepare to have everything you say be doubted because having a PhD in biology definitely makes you a qualified medical doctor," Mira muttered, and Nyla smiled, grabbing the chart Mira handed her.

"So does having a complete residency." Nyla quipped back and let out a soft laugh at Mira's offended look, deciding to read over the chart instead. She started making her way over to bed 7 as that was the one on her chart when she was stopped. The young doctor looked up to see Henry Fields, the chief of surgery, staring back at her "Chief Fields, what can I do for you?" she asked politely. The dark-skinned man looked down at the chart in her hands and took it, placing a different chart in her hands.

"Got a call from a friend who was at the scene of the failed experiment. Want's a qualified doctor to look at his friend and you're the best I have on right now." Nyla opened her mouth to argue that every doctor was equally great, but Dr Fields held his hand up "Please don't argue, I owe this man a favour and this is the best way to repay it. The patient is in Trauma Room 1", and with that, Dr Fields left the ER, handing off her old chart to one of the surgical residents on ER duty. Nyla sighed and looked down at the new chart in her hands. 2nd-degree burns. Potential 3rd degree. Sounded pretty bad. Nyla read over the rest of the chart as she made her way over to Trauma Room 1.

Using her shoulder, she opened the door and stood in the doorway a few seconds, a small smile on her face. Once she'd finished reading the chart, she looked up and saw Danny and Aiden standing over the patient. "Hello, Danny and Aiden, I didn't realise you would be in here" Her smile widened, and the two surgical residents turned towards her.

"Dr Correa. We were just examining the patient." Danny explained, and Nyla's eyes shifted to the man lying on the table.

"Then this must be Max Sky." She muttered and walked around the gurney, so she was standing on his left side. She placed his chart on a clear medical trolley then took the stethoscope around her neck off and placed it onto Max's chest, her eyebrows furrowed in concentration as she listened to his heartbeat. It was a little slow but steady and strong. After a minute of moving the stethoscope around his chest, she took it off and looked at the heart monitor. It confirmed what she had heard. She then heard someone shuffle and turned her head.

Only to see Professor Lucien smiling happily at her, leaning against a medical trolley by the window on the other side of the patient. She stood up straighter in surprise "Professor Lucien! I didn't realise you'd be here." His eyes shined with amusement, and she fought down a blush.

"Well, it had been my research centre, and I'd been there when the accident had occurred." She nodded, and Lucien looked down at the patient, the amusement fading. "How is he?" he asked, and Nyla looked back down at the man.

"Your friend has received 2nd-degree burns along his arms and collarbones, the majority of the burns on his chest are 3rd-degree though. All of the burns will require cleaning and debriding." Lucien nodded his understanding and Nyla turned towards the two surgical residents. "Prep him for 2nd and 3rd-degree cleaning and debriding." They nodded and both left the room to go get the necessary equipment. Nyla turned back to Lucien. "What about you, Professor?" She asked, and Lucien gave her a confused look. She smiled a glowing smile "Are you injured? You said you were there when the experiment failed." She clarified. Lucien shook his head, offering her a smile.

"Fortunately, I was not. I'd been standing outside the room when the accident had occurred. I'd also been checked at the scene," Nyla nodded and turned back to Max's chart, picking it up when he spoke again "And please, it's Lucien." She flushed slightly and did another small nod, before taking out a pen and starting to fill out the sections on the chart one by one. She felt Lucien's gaze on her but didn't look up, wanting to get the chart filled. "You look too young to be a certified surgical doctor."

Nyla looked up at the professor to see his gaze was curious and not mocking. She smiled at him "Well, you look too young to own a scientific institute." She said back, and Lucien smiled, he made to open his mouth when Danny and Aiden returned with the necessary equipment. "Perfect! Start prepping him" The two surgical residents nodded, and Nyla went back to filling out the chart when her pager went off, she took it out of her pocket "Damn it." She muttered under her breath, and Lucien stood up straighter.

"What's wrong?" He asked, but Nyla didn't respond. Instead, she turned towards the two surgical residents.

"Danny and Aiden, your gonna have to do the cleaning and debridement, don't worry a nurse will come to help you if you need it. I don't want you two to feel any pressure just because this is a VIP patient. Take your time, and don't be afraid to ask for assistance." The residents nodded and got back to preparing the patient. Nyla turned to Lucien "Please forgive me Prof-uh Lucien but I am being paged elsewhere. I will be back to check on him later, though." And with that, she rushed out of the trauma room, not giving Lucien a chance to respond.

~~~~~

Lucien watched the young doctor disappear around a corner, long white hair and glowing blue eyes vanishing. A smile small played on his lips. How interesting. He'd heard from the landlord that he'd be getting a new neighbour, and while the news hadn't exactly annoyed him, he hadn't been happy about it either. He'd purposely been late to work so he could see his new neighbour and whatever he'd been expecting mattered little now that he'd actually met his new neighbour.

She was beautiful and talented. He was sure she was around his age, and the fact that she was a full-blown surgical doctor was an amazing accomplishment. Her white hair indicated that something was different about the women, and Lucien felt a strange desire to figure out what it was. He thoughtfully looked out the window. Perhaps that experiment failing won't be such a failure in the end.

~~~~~

When Nyla got out of surgery, she headed straight for the ER, checking her phone along the way to see she'd got a text from an unknown number. Her frown deepened and stop walking, moving off to the side. What did he need with her?

She unlocked her phone and clicked the text.

I feel honoured to have you be our doctor today. - L

Her eyes widened. Professor Lucien? Though he seemed to prefer Lucien. But how did he get her number?

Lucien! I'm glad I was able to help. How did you get my number? - N

I asked the landlord for it, I hope you don't mind. - L

Nyla smiled. Seems that her landlord was a very trusting person. That could prove to be problematic.

Not at all. Was there something you needed? - N

I just wanted to thank you for helping us after our mistake. - L

I was required to go back to the lab so I couldn't tell you in person. So I thought I would do it here. You have my number now too, so feel free to use it. - L

Nyla's smile widened, and she put her phone away. After losing her patient in surgery, she'd been feeling down, but somehow Lucien had brightened up her spirit. She sighed and continued making her way to the ER. What a strange man...


<{~*~Gavin x Tessa~*~}>

(Wednesday 15th, April)

It was around lunchtime when the chief finally walked through the door, having taken his sweet time in getting here. He strutted in, head held high as if he could do no wrong. Tessa suddenly felt the very strong desire to bury his face in a wall, after all, he'd made her wait three hours for their appointment when he was the one who'd told her to come to the police station early. Suppressing the urge to kill her new boss, Tessa sighed and directed the draggers she was glaring his way to someone else. Like the criminal dickhead who'd been ogling her for the best 10 minutes. Did he think she was blind?

The perv made eye contact with her, and a creepy smirk crawled across his lips. Tessa was really glad she didn't have her guns with her in that very moment because there was no way that guy was leaving the room breathing if she did. She instead decided to glare pretend bullets into his head, and it must have done something because that stupid smirk disappeared and he looked away, suddenly becoming very pale. Satisfied with his reaction, Tessa scanned her surroundings for the umpteenth time that morning. The station was pretty hectic, the massive car crash yesterday still causing panic. She was sitting outside the chief of police's office, Chief Colon, waiting to see him so she could confirm she was set to start duty tomorrow.

It was supposed to be quick and easy, she'd planned to go wondering the city once the meeting was over, to continue familiarising herself with its layout but since the chief took so long to get here, she'd have to ditch that idea. Sighing, Tessa watched as Chief Colon exited his office and headed over to the receptionist, documents in hand. He put them on the table and exchanged quick words with the woman. A look of confusion briefly passed over the chief face when the woman pointed a hand in Tessa's direction. The confusion was replaced by horror and Tessa almost groaned.

The man had obviously forgotten about their appointment if his reaction was anything to go by. The woman handed him a document, and the chief nodded, making his way over to his new employee. Tessa immediately wiped any trace of annoyance off her face and put on a small smile, waiting for the man to get closer before standing up. "Officer Pace corrected?" Tessa nodded in confirmation, noticing out of the corner of her eye that the perv in handcuffs was being taken away by an older officer. Chief Colon extended his hand "I'm very sorry about the delay in getting here this morning, an unfortunate incident occurred which prevented me from getting here earlier."

Tessa shook the man's hand, picking up a strong amount of deodorant coming off him, and immediately knew the man was lying. The unfortunate incident was probably him waking up with a hangover and, realising he was late, putting on a bunch of deodorant to cover up the alcoholic smell. This man clearly thought she was some kind of noob or that he was a genius. Tessa nodded her head in understanding, pretending to believe the man's story.

"It's okay sir, I completely understand, sometimes these things just happen." The chief nodded as Tessa let go of his hand.

"Yes, they do." The chief stepped aside and point a hand towards his office "I assume you're here to begin active duty, why don't we discuss this in my office?" Tessa nodded and made her way towards the office, Chief Colon in toe. Once inside, she watched him close the door, turn around and gesture to the uncomfortable chair in front of his desk. She sat down, resisting the urge to squirm to find a more comfortable position, and watched the man place her file on his desk and sit down in his giant office chair.

"I'm glad to see you finally begin active duty," Tessa looked up at her new boss in surprise as he picked up her file "I'll admit I was a bit against having you transferred here, but after reading your file, I must say I'm impressed. You've managed to make the rank of captain so quickly and proved yourself quite capable at handling yourself in a bad situation, overall very impressive for a young female police officer." The chief emphasised the word female and Tessa fought down her irritation.

She was glad to have impressed Chief Colon and didn't want to get on his bad side by snapping at the man, besides she could understand his surprise. Female police officers didn't generally raise the ranks so quickly "Thank you, sir." Tessa said, nodding her head respectfully.

The chief smiled and put her file back on the table. "However, even though you are an experienced police officer, Loveland City is quite foreign to you, and I believe it would make things a lot easier for the both of us if, for the first month or so, you had a partner to help you navigate the city and teach you the ways of being a city cop since your last placement was in a small country town."

Tessa had expected this and her first instinct was to refuse the man, to tell him she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself, but the man was right. Loveland city was entirely new to her and, as she saw earlier, the life of a city cop was clearly much busier than that of a country one, plus this man was her new boss, and she didn't really want to get fired before even starting. Tessa put on a smiled and nodded her head "I was thinking the same thing." Chief Colon's smile grew at her agreement, and she internally sighed. She just hoped he didn't pair her with a dickhead.

The chief picked up the phone and called someone. They quickly exchanged words before he put it back down and stood up "It seems your partner is already waiting outside if you will follow me." Tessa nodded and stood up, following her new boss out of his office and into the bustling station. It somehow seemed even busier than before though they'd only been talking for about five minutes. Chief Colon stood still and scanned over the place, eyes searching for her partner. They stopped when they spotted them, and Tessa followed his gaze.

It was a handsome young policeman with chestnut hair and golden eyes that were staring fiercely at the man he currently had pinned to the ground beneath him. Tessa's eyes widened when she realised it was the perv from before. The chief shook his head but made his way over, Tessa following suit. As they got closer, she could hear the conversation going on.

"Don't even think about moving." The young officer's tone was fierce but even. The chief cleared his throat, and he looked up, a scowl on his lips.

"Officer Gavin, what's the problem?" Gavin looked back down at the man below him, eyebrows furrowed in anger.

"He tried to attack Kara, so I tackled him." He said bluntly, and the man struggled against Gavin grip once again "Don't even try to deny it. You were caught a few days ago trying to assault a civilian. I've got the police report to prove it." He got off the man and yanked him off the ground. "I won't let you try and hurt another." He handed the struggling man off to someone else and took in a deep breath, hand on hip.

He turned around and looked straight at the captain "Was there something you needed, Chief Colon?" he asked, and the chief stiffly nodded.

"Yes. Your new partner is here." The chief stepped aside and presented Tessa to the young police officer. "Officer Gavin, this is Officer Tessa Pace, your new partner."

Gavin's eyes seemed to widen in surprise, and Tessa furrowed her eyebrows. Now that she was standing in front of him, he seemed familiar. Suddenly fragments of a chilly autumn day, a white grand piano and golden ginkgo leaves floating in the wind flashed behind Tessa's eyes before quickly disappearing, not staying long enough to form a memory. Gavin cleared his throat and wiped his face of surprise, instead, holding out his hand.

"Hello, Officer Pace. It's nice to finally meet you." Tessa smiled and grabbed his hand, deciding to worry about the fragments of memory later.

"You too, Officer Gavin, and Tessa is fine. If we are going to be partners, no matter how temporary, I prefer we be on a first-name basis." He nodded in agreement before letting go of her hand, the warmth he'd provided leaving too. Chief Colon nodded his head.

"Good. I'm glad to see your both going along with this. I know it is not ideal, but until Officer Pace here is more familiar with the city, this is the best course of action," Tessa nodded and so did Gavin. "Great. I'll leave you too. Your uniform and guns are with Kara at the reception desk, be sure to get them before you leave." And with that, he headed back to his office.

Tessa watched him go before turning back to Gavin, who was watching her curiously "Guns?" he inquired, and Tessa flushed slightly.

"Yeah. I feel more prepared when I have two guns on me." Gavin nodded but didn't continue the conversation. He stood there awkwardly, not seemly knowing what to do, gaze directed at the ground. Tessa smiled and leaned forward slightly.

"So what case are we working on tomorrow?" Gavin looked up, ears slightly red and coughed.

"Right. The multi-pile car crash. Some evidence has been found that suggests it wasn't an accident, and we been task with confirming that theory." Tessa nodded. She'd watched the live steam of the crash on the news and decided she couldn't put off starting her new job any longer.

"Okay." She then furrowed her eyebrows "Well if we're gonna figure out if the crash was on purpose then we need to find out everything about who was in the crash so we should probably start by talking to the victims." Gavin offered a small smile.

"I was thinking the same thing." Tessa smiled back at him.

"Great. I have a contact at the hospital I can call to help us out." Gavin nodded his approval, and she clapped her hands together "Awesome." She glanced at the clock. "I better get going, I still have some tasks I need to complete."

"Okay. I already have your contact number so I'll text you later to confirm a meeting spot." Smiling at her new partner, Tessa turned to leave.

"Cool. Until tomorrow, Gavin." She waved and walked over to the reception desk.

~~~~~

Gavin watched her walk away, eyebrows furrowed. He didn't know why but she looked so familiar like he'd met her before. He sighed and pushed the thought aside. It didn't matter anyway. A small smile came upon his lips. He'd been mad when the chief had told him that he'd be the one breaking in the rookie and the commander hadn't been happy about it either but his new partner was better than expected.

She seemed to know what she was doing, having no trouble leading an investigation, and she was confident in her abilities to carry two weapons with her. And, according to the chief, a few strange rumours surrounded her about her 'abilities' meaning she could possess an Evol, but that was yet to be seen. Plus, she was beautiful. He watched as she walked out of the police station with all her belongings. This partnership was gonna be something else, he was sure of that much at least.

~~~~~

Tessa's phone vibrated just as she'd finished cleaning up after dinner. She dried off her hands and wandered over to her changing phone, unlocking it. She had gotten a text from an unknown number. She closed her eyes. Why was he bothering her now?

She sat down on her couch and opened up the text.

Meet me outside the police station tomorrow. - G

Tessa let out a sigh of relief. The text was from Gavin.

Got it. Outside of the police station. What time? - T

8:30. - G

Did you get home safe? - G

Tessa blinked. He was inquiring after her safety? Well, partners are meant to look out for and look after each other.

Yeah. No issues. It the only place I know how to get to. - T

Don't worry, I'll help you find your way around. - G

You have my number now, so be sure to save it. And remember outside the police station tomorrow at 8:30. - G

Tessa put her phone down, a smile on her lips. She got up off the couch and grabbed the file on the victims of the multi-pile car crash, a glass of water and made herself comfortable again before grabbing her phone and calling a familiar number...


<{~*~Kiro x Aria~*~}>

(Sunday 12th, April)

This had been a horrible idea. Absolutely horrible. Why she'd thought it would be a good idea in the first place had since escaped her. Aria ran through the streets, occasionally glancing back. Yep, they were still following her. She felt like crying. Now don't get her wrong, she adored her fans, but this was too much. Being chased through the streets!? She wasn't even that popular! How was this even happening?

Deciding to leave B.S Entertainment for some fresh air after a morning full of boring meetings had seemed like a fantastic idea. Aria had taken the necessary precautions by wearing a hoodie, but after she'd clumsily bumped into a fan at the local park, all her efforts had been ruined. She'd apologise and signed the fan's hat, expecting it to end at that. But then another fan had spotted and shouted her name, and now here she was. Running for her life through the streets of Loveland. This was not how she wanted to tour her new home.

She reached a corner and came to a halt. It would take too long for the lights to change, and Aria was not a jay-walker. She turned down the street to her left instead, not really caring where she was going. She'd gotten lost a few blocks back anyway. Man her agent was gonna kill her. If she didn't kill herself first. She'd been running for the past 15 minutes and hadn't eaten anything for almost an hour, so her stomach was being to hate her. Damn her abnormal metabolism.

She turned another corner into an alley, looking behind her to see if she was still being followed. And ran right into someone's chest with enough force to send them both tumbling and rolling. Everything seemed to go black for a few seconds as the world spun. When it finally stopped, Aria was lying on the ground in pain and no breath. She groaned and made to get up before realising something heavy was lying on her. And crushing her already dying stomach.

"Oh my god! I'm so sorry." A young but cheerful voice laced with worry sounded in her ears, and the weight disappeared. Aria took in a deep breath at being able to breathe again. "Are you okay?" The voice continued, and Aria sat up, putting a hand to her spinning head and opened her eyes.

A blurry image of a young man with blonde hair and blue eyes was staring back at her, features unclear. Aria shook her head, willing her eyes to focus and opened them again. Only to see The Kiro staring at her with worry. She gasped.

"Kir-". His hand quickly went to her mouth, and he leaned in close, finger to his lips. She nodded in understanding, and he took his hand away. She tried again "I'm so sorry for running into you!" She whispered "I didn't mean too! Honest!" Kiro shook his head, a big smile on his lips.

"Don't worry about it. Accidents happen." Aria smiled right back, expression joyful. A bunch of distant voices caught her attention, and she quickly got up, ignoring the splitting pain in her stomach and jogged to the entrance of the alley, peeking her head around the corner. The fans that had been chasing her were standing a couple of meters away, hands pointing in different directions. They were looking for her. She quickly ducked into the alley again, back pressed up against the wall.

Kiro was standing now, looking at her curiously. She motioned for him to join her against the alley wall and he did. Once in whisper range, Aria leaned towards him "I'm being chased" and motion toward the entrance. Kiro did the same she'd done and peeked his head around the corner, eyes widening slightly before retreating back into the alley.

"So you are that Aria." He muttered, and she nodded, deciding to deal with the fact that The Kiro knew her name later. He thought deeply for a second before motioning his head for her to follow him. Aria did, and they hid behind a dumpster, crouching. She gagged at the smell, and Kiro smiled. "What are you doing here?" He inquired quietly, and Aria smiled at him.

"I was being chased by crazy fans remember?" Her voice was joyful, and Kiro laughed slightly.

"That isn't what I meant." He said, and Aria looked at him with confusion.

"But that's why I am here. I was being chased, not caring where I was going, and now here I am in this alley with you, completely lost." The smile never left her face, and Kiro raised his eyebrows, eyes wide.

"You're lost?" A bunch of voices close by rose above Kiro's quiet question, and Aria crouched lower. She waited for the voices to retreat before speaking again.

"Yep. Loveland is still very new to me." Kiro nodded then smiled and stood up.

"No need to worry now, your superhero has arrived." Aria let out a laugh as he struck a pose. "I'll show you where you need to go so just follow me." He held out his hand, and she grinned, taking it and being pulled to her feet. Kiro pulled her out the alley and did a quick glance around. The street was pretty bare. He turned and looked at, face thoughtful. He reached forwards and raised her hoodie, hiding her face "Where do you need to go?"

Aria smiled "B.S Entertainment, I having meetings there all day." She said, and Kiro's eyes brightened.

"That's where I'm also going!" Aria's smile brightened.

"Really?" Kiro nodded.

"Yeah! Don't worry, I'll lead us back." He tugged on her hand, and they started moving before Aria gasped.

"Wait!" He turned and looked at her, frowning with worry.

"What is it?" She didn't respond, just smiled and reached up to pull his hoodie over his head. Kiro blinked before smiling as well, and they both chuckled as he pulled on her again, leading them out of the back street.

He navigated his way through Loveland city, making sure to not let go of her hand. They kept their heads down, not talking for fear of being recognised, and twenty minutes later, they'd arrive at the back alley door of B.S Entertainment. Kiro winked at her and input the passcode, the door clicking open a moment later. He led her inside and up the stairs to the main lobby like he did this all the time. Aria looked around at all the agents rushing about and smiled.

She turned and gave Krio a big hug, squeezing his middle "Thank You!!" Kiro coughed.

"No p-problem." He sounded breathless, and Aria let go, taking a step back, smile bright. Kiro coughed again, rubbing his stomach as he caught his breath and Aria felt pain rush through hers. She bit her lip and flinched at the intensity. She needed food! Now! She looked up at Kiro to see he hadn't noticed her discomfort.

"I don't know about you, but I'm starving! I gonna go and find my agent." Kiro blinked at her. She turned and raised her hand, waving "Thank you again!" She started jogging off, waving at him when she crashed into something hard and stumbled back. She looked up to see her head of security Kenny looking at her in concern. "Kenny!" She said, smiling.

"Are you okay?" He asked, and she waved him off.

"Of course. Say, have you seen Bella?" She inquired, looking behind the solid man.

"I'm right here." An angry feminine voice said, and Aria flinched. She stood up straighter and turned to look at her pissed off agent.

"Bella!" She said cheerfully, and the frown on the woman's face deepened.

"Aria," She said evenly before taking in a deep breath "Where have you been!?" She shouted, and Aria flinched. "We have been looking everywhere for you? How could you just get up and disappear like that? Do you know how worried Kenny and I were?!" She questioned loudly, drawing the attention of everyone in the lobby. Aria hung her head in shame.

"I'm sorry," She looked at the ground, pouting "I didn't mean to make you worry. Honest! I'd stepped outside to get some fresh air and burn off some of my pent up energy after all the meetings we'd had, and I got recognised by some fan." She looked up at her agent's face "Some turned into lots, and they chased me through the city!" Kenny tensed behind her and Aria bowed her head again. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you I was leaving. I didn't think I would be recognised. I'm so sorry."

There was silence for a few seconds before Bella sighed "It's okay." Aria looked up, smile bright. "Just don't do it again." She said sternly afterwards, and Aria nodded.

"Don't worry, I'm never leaving without a bodyguard again." She turned and smiled up at Kenny, who nodded at her. "Nor will I leave without some food." She gripped her aching stomach, pain washing over her face "I'm so hungry." Bella rolled her eyes but pulled a massive bag of chips out of nowhere. Aria grinned and grabbed it, muttering a thank you.

"How did you find your way back here anyway? Isn't Loveland new to you?" Aria nodded, chewing happily. She swallowed and smiled.

"Yep! Someone helped me back." She took another handful of chips as Bella frowned.

"Who?" Aria pointed behind her agent at Kiro who was being growled at by his agent. Bella's mouth hung open as Aria swallowed and took another handful of chips out of the bag. Kiro noticed her gaze and smiled, waving at her. Aria waved back, grinning as well. His agent noticed and looked at Aria, eyes widening. He exchanged quick words with Kiro before making his way over, Kiro in toe.

"Hello. I'm Savin, Kiro's agent. You must be Bella, the agent for Aria." He held out his hand, and Bella shook it.

"Indeed, I am." Savin smiled a business smile.

"It would appear as if your charge is causing you trouble..." He trailed off, and the two agents began to converse. Aria watched, happily eating her chips when she heard a 'psst'. She turned her head to see Kiro standing next to her.

"Hi." She grinned and waved at him, mouth full of chips. "Those looks really good." He said, and Aria swallowed.

"Thanks! My agent gave them to me" She said and took some more chips. Kiro smiled sadly.

"You're so lucky, my agent doesn't let me eat chips. He's so strict when it comes to my diet." He said pouting and Aria blinked. She looked down at her bag of chips and took one out, offering it to Kiro. He blinked and glanced at their agents. They weren't paying attention. He grabbed the chip and threw it into his mouth. His eyes widen in surprise, and he smiled down at her. "Wow! So good." Aria smiled up at him and went to open her mouth when a voice interrupted.

"What are you two doing?" The two superstars turned to look at their agents.

"Just talking," Aria said innocently, and Kiro grinned widely, joining in.

"Yep, just talking." He said, and they both giggled. Savin rolled his eyes.

"Well, we were just talking too and have come to the conclusion that perhaps you two should do a collab since you obviously get along." Aria blinked and looked at Kiro who was smiling at her. Collab with The Kiro? She lowered her gaze to the ground. He had a more extensive fan base than she did and the back last could be huge but if her agent thought it was a good idea then who was she to judge. She looked back up, smiling.

"That sounds awesome!" Kiro grinned widely at her. Bella nodded in approval.

"Good. Now I'm afraid we need to go back upstairs. There are still a few meetings to get through." Aria sighed but nodded, finishing off her bag of chips. Bella handed her another one as Aria turned to Kiro.

"It was nice to meet you, and I look forward to our collaboration." She held out her hand, and Kiro took it, smiling.

"I'm looking forward to it as well." He said. Aria's smile brightened, and she waved, turning to follow her agent upstairs.

~~~~~

Kiro watched the enthusiastic blonde disappear up the stairs, giant chip bag in hand. He continued to grin even after she'd vanished from his sight. That had been fun. When he'd been slammed into at the alley, he thought it'd been a fan. He hadn't expected to meet Aria, the rising superstar and a figure skating champion. His agent had told him she was his age.

She'd been so cute and joyful, he'd felt the need to stop what he was doing and help her. Which he did, bringing her all the way back to B.S Entertainment. He'd felt warmth surge up inside him at the thankful hug and bright smile she'd given him, and he knew the detour of coming back here had been worth it. He was confused as to why she was eating chips and why she'd taken the stairs when the elevator was quicker, but that was something he could find out later. Man, he was so looking forward to the collab.

~~~~~

Aria was lying on her bed, typing away at her laptop when her phone buzzed. She paused the video she was watching and sat up, grabbing her phone. She'd gotten a text from an unknown number. What did he need to bother her?

She unlocked her phone and opened the text.

Hello, Miss Chips! - K

Thank you so much for letting me have a chip. - K

Oh, it was a text from Kiro. Aria smiled brightly

No! Thank you for helping find my way back to B.S Entertainment. - A

It's was no problem at all. Happy to help. - K

She grinned then frowned. What had he been doing in that alley so far away from B.S Entertainment anyway?

I'm glad I ran into. You were like my superhero today! - A

Haha. Perhaps superhero Kiro can treat you to something better than chips next time. - K

This is my number. Be sure to stay in touch. - K

Aria put the phone down, smiling before laying back down and pressing play on the figure skating video. She hoped this collab was as good as she was hoping it would be...

Chapter Text

(Thursday 16th, April)

Leaning against the wall outside the police station, typing away at her phone, Tessa waited for her partner to be done getting debrief by the chief. She glanced at her watch. It was 8:39. She'd booked there meeting at the hospital for 8:45 as that was when her contact was free. She sighed and stood up straighter. Looks like they were going to be late. She finished typing out her text before sending it and putting away her phone, looking up at the sky.

It's was a shining blue with small white fluffy clouds scattered throughout it, no apparent pattern present. She felt a slight breeze blow by, making her hair tussle in the wind. She adjusted the black pins keeping her hair in place and looked at the front doors of the police station. Gavin was walking down, face stoic, dressed in a white shirt and denim jacket instead of the standard police uniform.

Tessa offered him a smile small as he drew closer "Everything all good?" She questioned, and he nodded.

"Yes. Nothing serious." He didn't expand, and Tessa decided she didn't need to know. If it had been about their partnership, she'd been asked to go too.

"Great," She glanced down at her watched. 8:40. "Well, we better get going. Your chat with the chief went too long so we won't get to the hospital on time, but we should still hurry, so we don't appear too tardy."

Gavin nodded and started walking towards the road, Tessa in toe. He led her to a motorbike parked on the sidewalk. He picked up a silver helmet and held it out to her "Here."

Tessa raised her eyebrows but grabbed the helmet, giving it a quick once over as Gavin grabbed his. "Your clearly not one for protocol, I see." He frowned at her and looked down when she eyed his outfit.

"My uniform is currently being 'thoroughly' cleared after my last assignment, and I prefer a motorbike to a cruiser." He clarified as he climbed onto the motorbike. He got comfortable before giving Tessa a small smile "Climb on."

She looked down at the helmet she was holding and quickly clipped it on before climbing onto the back of the bike. "Hold on tight." Her partner said, and she wrapped her arms around his waist as he released the stand, started the engine and speed off down the street. Tessa turned her head and watched the scenery rush past her violently, all blurry, and out of focus at the speed, the motorbike was going. She leaned her head against Gavin's back and instinctively clutched him tighter.

In no time at all, they reached the hospital, and Tessa loosened her grip around the man as they slowed down to a halt on the sidewalk. Tessa climbed off slowly, feeling a little light-headed, and glanced down at her watch. 8:44. What? But how was that even possible? The police station was at least 10 minutes away from the hospital by car. Tessa glanced at her partner as he took off his helmet. Could he be a...? She shook the thought away and took off her helmet. Now was not the time.

She gave the helmet to Gavin who secured it to the motorbike before he started making his way towards the hospital entrance, forcing Tessa to jog slightly to keep up. "Tell me about the case, I didn't get a chance to look the file over last night." He said, and Tessa reached into the messenger bag she'd taken with her, grabbing out the file.

"Two days ago, several cars crashed into each other on the highway. There were 15 victims in total, with 12 being sent to the hospital with severe or mortal injuries." Gavin stopped walking, turning to look at her.

"15?" Tessa nodded.

"Four cars and a truck were involved in the crash. One was a minivan carrying a family of 5, one was a sedan with a family of 4 inside, one was a coupe carrying an elderly couple and the last one was a pickup with two friends inside and the truck was carrying two drivers." Gavin frowned and started walking again, though at a much slower pace.

"That's pretty bad. Which ones didn't go to the hospital?" Tessa glanced down at the file.

"The two friends in the pickup truck, Mr Joe Can, 34, and Mr Gary Tancourt, 32. The pickup was the only car that hadn't rolled and had been the last to crash," Gavin nodded in understanding. "The other one had been Mrs Marie Bree, an aunt to one of the families. She'd gone to hospital but not to be treated." The two cops entered the lobby, and Tessa was immediately assaulted by the smell of disinfectant. She coughed and led Gavin towards the reception desk.

"Anyone found dead at the scene?" He asked, and Tessa shook her head.

"No, which is honestly surprising. I've seen the photos of the crash," Tessa stopped in front of the reception desk, eyes cast downward in gloom "Hard to believe anyone could survive something that horrific." She didn't see Gavin frown and raise his hand towards her shoulder before dropping it.

"Hello!" Tessa looked up at receptionist smiling plasticity at them. "Can I help you?" Tessa coughed and wiped her face of all sorrow.

"Yes, could you let Dr Nyla Correa know that Tessa Pace has arrived. We have a meeting." The blonde nodded and picked up a phone. After a short conversation, she put down the phone.

"Dr Correa is waiting for you in the E.R." Tessa nodded.

"Thank you." She said before talking off down the hallway, Gavin in toe. "Nyla is a trauma surgeon and treated some of the car crash victims. She can get us all the information we need about the victims." Tessa clarified to her partner who nodded, that same stoic expression on his face.

They made it to the E.R in no time, and Tessa did a quick scan of the room. It's was relatively quiet with only a few of the beds having patients in them and not many nurses or residents walking about. She dragged her eyes over the room, spotting the unmistakable long white hair of her friend near the reception desk. She was sighing a chart, looking totally relaxed like she wasn't in charge of everyone in the room. Tessa smiled a bright smile and walked over to the doctor.

"Nyla!" She called out, and the white-haired surgeon looked up, the small smile on her lips widening.

"Tessa! I was wondering when you'd get here." The two engaged in a quick hug, greeting each other like the good friends they were. "You're a little late."

Tessa pulled back, rolling her eyes "I'm not that late." Nyla smiled a teasing smile.

"5 minutes can be crucial to a surgeon. The meaning between life and death." Tessa scoffed.

"Then it's a good thing I'm not here for a check-up." Nyla's eyes gleamed, and Tessa stood up straighter. "Because I'm not!" She clarified, and Nyla chuckled in amusement. Tessa realised Nyla was only joking and cursed herself. A deep cough interrupted their conversation.

The two woman's eyes fell on Gavin. "Oh, Nyla, this is my partner, Gavin. He's showing me the ropes of being a city cop." Nyla held out her hand, and Gavin shook it.

"Thanks for helping with our investigation, Dr Correa." Nyla nodded her head in greeting.

"It's no problem, Officer Gavin." She let go of his hand and directed them around to the reception desk. "I had the information you need prepared and simplified for you." The doctor grabbed two files from under the desk and handed them to Tessa and Gavin. "It's all in there."

Gavin looked at the file in his hand, opening it up and beginning to read. Tessa looked at the thick file with hesitance before looking back up at the young doctor. "Do you have the time to tell us about the victims yourself?" She asked, and Nyla nodded with an understanding smile, rounding the reception desk.

"Of course, if you'll follow me." Tessa followed behind Nyla as she led them out of the E.R, Gavin following behind her. He gave Tessa a questioning look, and she gave him a small smile, suddenly feeling embarrassed. "Two days ago, we had the 12 victims of the multi-pile car crash rushed to our E.R. I, along with a few others, were called in to help." They boarded an elevator and Nyla pressed one of the patient floors.

"Unfortunately, over the last two days, we've lost 6 of those 12 victims, one as recent as last night, and there are still a few that are in critical condition." Tessa glanced at Gavin's file to see it was open to one of the victims, an old man.

"Which ones did you lose?" Tessa asked as they reached the floor and Nyla lead them out to the reception desk on that floor.

"Jacob Bree and Harley Davids died the day of the car crash. We lost the elderly couple Tony and Gabby McHens as well as Rufus Davids the following day, and just yesterday we lost Annie Bree, one of the child victims." Gavin's hands tightened on his file and Tessa closed her eyes.

"How old?" Nyla sighed with despair.

"Nine. She was 9." A heavy silence followed, and Tessa had trouble finding the courage to ask her next question. Luckily, Gavin did it for her.

"Who's still in critical condition?" Nyla turned and looked up at the patient board that held the data of the patients on the floor. "The two truck drivers and both Davids children."

"That leaves the mother, Natalie Bree and the other Bree child, Pete Bree the only ones in stable condition?" Nyla nodded at Gavin's question, and he took in a deep breath. "What are the conditions of the four that are still critical?"

Nyla smiled sadly and started walking again, leading them down a hall of patient rooms "The older truck driver, Charles Stout, is currently in the burn ICE and the other truck driver, Ronald Mclean, is currently having surgery done on his heart to repair a tear." Nyla stopped in front of a patient room and looked in. Tessa followed her gaze and gasped.

Two little girls, one with a bandage wrapped around their head and the other with a bandage over their eyes, were hooked up to machines. "The Davids children are worse. The one with the bandage wrapped around her head is Lillian Davids, she 6 and currently in a coma and the other one is Scarlett Davids, whose 10 and suffered severe eye damage in the crash, she most likely won't see properly again."

"And their the orphaned ones right?" Tessa asked in a quiet voice, gaze on the children. Nyla put a comforting hand on her shoulder, drawing her attention and offering her a small smile.

"We have called child service who have contact their extended family, all of whom are on their way to Loveland right now. We have the best doctors, nurses and equipment to nurse these two back to health, and while it looks bad, they are both fighters and have been beating the odds since they arrived." Tessa smiled at Nyla and nodded, feeling slightly better. Nyla always had been good at cheering her up, even when they were little.

"Do you know where Marie Bree is?" Gavin asked, breaking the two out of the moment. Tessa coughed and stood up straighter. Of course, she was in front of her partner, she couldn't get sappy now. They had a job to do. Nyla turned towards the other police officer.

"She's most likely in Natalie Bree's room. Last door down that way." Nyla pointed down the hall they'd just come down, and Gavin nodded. He looked at Tessa and offered her a small smile.

"Don't worry. We're gonna find the sick bastard who did this and make him pay." Tessa blinked then nodded as well, cheeks slightly red. Gavin bowed his thanks at Nyla before making his way down the hall. She watched him and once she was sure he was out of earshot, turned to Tessa, putting on a teasing smile.

"You know I've never seen you blush like that at a guy before, could it be that you like him?" Tessa stood up straighter, her cheeks going redder at Nyla's words "I don't blame you if you do, he is very handsome and has a sense of justice too. I bet he would make an 'awesome partner' right?" She inquired, and Tessa looked at her with embarrassment, not missing the meaning behind her words.

"It's not like that!" She yelled, incredibly flustered and Nyla giggled.

"Are you sure?" She poked, and Tessa nodded her head furiously.

"Of course, I'm sure! I don't even know him!" Nyla leaned in real close and whispered in the blushing cop's ear

"But you want to?" Tessa's red deepened even more, and she stepped away from the teasing doctor.

"Stop it!" Nyla laughed out loud at Tessa's reaction.

"Okay, I'll stop." Tessa huffed, closed her eyes and crossed her arms, trying to will the redness away. "Still, I'm glad to see that your partner seems like a good person." Tessa opened her eyes and watched Gavin's retreating back. An image of that same back walking away on a golden autumn day flashed behind her eyes, staying for only a second.

"Perhaps," Tessa said, and Nyla rolled her eyes. "Too early to tell." Nyla sighed and shook her head.

"What does your gut tell you?" Tessa looked at the white-haired surgeon and then back at Gavin, who'd reached Natalie Bree's room and was about to go in before realising Tessa wasn't behind him. He met her curious gaze with one of his own that soon turned to one of annoyance.

"My gut tells me I'm gonna be in trouble if I don't move my ass." Nyla chuckled and wrapped her arms around Tessa in a side hug.

"Then go. Don't keep the bad guys waiting. I'll call you with any updates on the car-crash victims." Tessa smiled at the older woman.

"Thanks, Nyla." The surgeon squeezed her tightly into her side before letting Tessa go. The cop waved at her before running down the hall to quickly get to Gavin. He was standing there, arms crossed, a scowl on his face, watching as Tessa quickly reached him. "Sorry, I had a few more questions about the victims I wanted to ask." He nodded before looking into the room they were standing in front of. Tessa joined him and saw a middle-aged woman lying in bed with a bandage around her forehead. She didn't have any machines connected to her like the Davids children.

"Remember? This woman has just lost her husband and one of her children, so gentleness is key." Gavin said quietly, and Tessa wanted to tell Gavin that she already knew that, but his tone stopped her. Instead, she nodded and quietly followed him into the room.

~~~~~

The motorbike went over a bump, and Tessa tightened her grip on Gavin once again. It wasn't that she was afraid of motorbikes, in fact, she knew how to ride one quiet well. Her skittishness was because she knew they were going extremely fast, way faster than they were probably meant to, Tessa still didn't understand how Gavin was doing it, and that it would be an incredibly painful way to die if she were to accidentally fall off. Plus, Gavin was warm, and the wind was cold.

They were heading to the Bree's household after getting permission from Natalie Bree to take a look in the way the Bree's had lived and to see if they were the targets of the multi-pile car crash and if they were still in danger. Tessa didn't think so, remembering the heart-wrenching pain that was present in Natalie Bree's eyes when she'd looked at her after Gavin had mentioned her husband and daughter. They were the eyes of a victim, an innocent victim who had just had her world ripped apart and burned.

But it was their job to explore every possible lead regardless of personal feelings, so here they were, travelling to Natalie Bree's house on the outskirts of Loveland City. Even with Gavin's strange travelling technique, it was still a long ride, and Tessa's bum was beginning to hurt from sitting on an uncomfortable seat for the past 20 minutes. Eventually, though, they began to slow down as they came across the Bree Household.

Gavin came to a complete stop, and Tessa quickly let go of him and got off the bike, groaning and rubbing her behind. "You know, Gavin, it's a great way to travel, but you need to invest in better seats if that's the only way we're going to be travelling otherwise this month as your partner is gonna be hell on my ass, uh, I mean bum." Gavin took off his helmet and secure it to the motorbike, ears slightly red.

"Noted. I'll, um, look into it." Tessa nodded and took off her helmet, handing it to the man who took it and secured it the motorbike. She turned around and looked at the house before them. It was simple yet modern, made out of brick and cement. It was a single story and looked well-lived in, the front yard had bikes and toys scatted about. Looked like the home of a perfectly happy and non-evil family. Tessa took in a deep breath. This was not going to be easy.

She started making her way up to the front door, looking around for possible areas someone would be able to watch them undetected. There wasn't a lot of them, and fortunately, the Bree family lived in a rather cosy neighbourhood, meaning an imposer would stand out and be noticed if he used a car. None of the bushes provided much coverage, and the trees were too hard to climb and get down from without creating too much noise.

"What are you thinking?" Gavin asked from behind her, and Tessa looked at him. His gaze was curious and open like he was generally interested in her thoughts. Perhaps, Nyla was right.

"Just trying to scout out any areas an imposer would watch the family from to learn their routine, and there are no easy options." Tessa started listing off her discoveries, pointing them as she did. "The tree's too tall and flat to climb and the bushes too thin and small to provide good cover. This neighbourhood is also small and familiar, meaning any unfamiliar cars and people returning night after night would be spotted."

Gavin nodded and looked at the house. "The house is pretty open to with large windows showing the dining room and lounge. Anyone from inside the house would have a pretty clear of the front lawn from all angles." Tessa nodded in agreement and looked at the surrounding houses.

"In fact, several houses would have a good view of this law." She watched a car drive down the street, the driver looking at her as they drove past. The neighbour was just too open to watch a family comfortably without getting spotted, at least the front of the house was. "We should check the back of the house." Gavin nodded, and they made their way to the gate. It was taller than both of them and made out of wood. Tessa touched it only for it to start barking violently at her. A dog.

Gavin jumped and gripped the top of the gate, pulling himself up to peaked over the top to have a look at the dog. He'd left his denim jacket over at the motorbike meaning Tessa could see his biceps perfectly and she watched them flex at the effort of holding Gavin up. Oh boy. They glistered in the sun with sweat covering them, and Tessa looked away, cheeks dusted with red. Now was not the time to ogle her partner. In fact, there was never a time!

Gavin let go and gracefully landed on the ground. "It's an Estrela Mountain Dog." Tessa blinked at him. She'd never heard of that breed. "Their big and fluffy and make great guard dogs." So the Bree family had a guard dog. Another reason it would be hard to spy on them.

"Did Natalie mention a dog?" Tessa asked, and Gavin shook his head. She probably wasn't really thinking when she gave them to permission to search her house either. "Doesn't matter. I'm great with dogs." Gavin raised his eyebrow but stepped aside. Tessa reached into her messenger bag, grabbing out the pack of dog treats she carried around. She likes to feed stray dogs, okay? She bent in front of the gate and opened one of the small windows at eye level.

The dog on the other side barked twice when it saw her but stopped when she held out the treat. It licked its muzzle, and she slowly moved her hand forward as to not startle the dog. It reached moved and sniffed the back of her hand before licking it in acceptance. Tessa smiled and feed the dog the treat. She did this a few more times until the dog was comfortable with her presence and was lying down. She then slowly undid the gate and walked into the yard.

The dog got up to sniff at her legs but didn't do much else. "Looks like it likes you." Tessa turned to see Gavin watching her through the gate. The dog moved away from her to sniff at Gavin and when it was satisfied that he wasn't a threat, came pouncing back over.

"Guess he likes you too," Tessa said as she gave the dog another treat. Gavin smiled and walked into the yard. He looked around while Tessa kept the dog occupied. She bent dog and patted the dog on the head before fiddling with its collar. She held up the tag to her eyes "Bongo." She muttered, and the dog started wagging its tail at its name being called. Tessa continued to shower Bongo with affection as Gavin continued to survey the yard.

"Even though it's much more enclosed and there are more areas to hide, Bongo would be able to detect if there was anything wrong." Gavin eventually concluded, and Tessa agreed with a bunch of swoons. She had Bongo on his back, because yes he was a boy, and was currently giving him a belly rub. She looked up at Gavin to see a small, amused smile on his lips and red dusted her cheeks once again. She coughed and finished off Bongo's belly rub.

"So then it's most likely that the Bree family were just in the wrong place at the wrong time." She stated, and Gavin nodded.

"There is nothing out of the ordinary here." Tessa gave Bongo another treat before standing up and brushing off the dog hair all over her uniform.

"Guess we should head back and report all this to the chief, then look into visiting the other victims' homes." Gavin nodded in agreement, and the two left the house, though Tessa made sure to leave Bongo the rest of her dog treats.

~~~~~

He started up the motorbike and sped off down the street, making his way back to Loveland City. Gavin felt Tessa clutch his waist tighter as he picked up speed and didn't fight his smile, knowing that she couldn't see him. Today had been an interesting day, to say the least. He hadn't expected the multi-pile car crash to be so huge and the fact that someone had felt the need to cause such an accident made his blood boil. He was going to give the victims closure by finding the bastard and making him burn.

Tessa had also been unexpected. For someone he didn't know, she relaxed him. The genuine sadness and anger she had felt at the victims suffering had really resonated with him like she was suffering along with them. The sister-like bond she had with Dr Correa had been an eye-opener, to see her relaxed when she'd appeared so tense the day before. And the way she'd made Bongo trust her so easy had been cool to watch. She was unlike any police officer he'd seen. There was just something about her...

 

Chapter Text

(Thursday 16th, April)

She watched Tessa jog away, returning her wave, a content smile on her face. She watched her have a quick discussion with Gavin before entering Natalie Bree's. Sighing, Nyla turned and looked into the Davids children room, a sad look on her face as she watched a machine assist a six-year-old in breathing.

Gavin had said something about finding the person responsible meaning someone had most likely caused that crash. Who would ever want to see a six-year-old so alone and vulnerable? What purpose would causing a crash like that have? Her gaze moved to the now blind ten-year-old, and her heart grew heavier. The site was painfully familiar.

Memories of a call about a horrific accident flooded Nyla's mind, and she had to look away from the injured children, redirecting her gaze to the floor as she willed the memories away. A beeping noise cleared all traces of the past from her mind, and she reached into her pocket, grabbing out her pager.

She glanced at it quickly and then started making her way towards the elevator, stopping at the reception desk to remained the nurses to update her with any changes. She pressed the floor for the Burn ICU and put her hands in her pocket, watching the numbers climb. The elevator reached her floor, and she nodded at the rest of the people in the elevator as she got off. She headed straight for the reception desk, being careful to avoid an oncoming gurney.

"I was paged?" She asked a nurse at the desk. He looked up.

"Dr Correa! Yes," He grabbed a chart lying next to him and offered it to her. "Max Sky needs a once over before the nurses change his bandages." Nyla grabbed the chart and nodded her thanks, heading towards a now-familiar patient room. The chief had asked she stay on Max Sky's case until he was no longer at risk of sudden surgery so she'd asked the nurses to page her with anything regarding the injured scientist. Her eyes skimmed over the chart, taking in old and new information. She put on a pair of protective gloves as she neared his room and, grabbed a mask to be safe. He was still at high risk of infection after all.

Nyla reached the injured man's room and slid the door open, eyes still on chart. "Good morning, Mr Sky, how are you-" she cut herself off when she looked up and realised the room was occupied. By two giant policemen and a familiar handsome professor looking at her with a curious gleam. She fought down a blush. She really needed to start looking up when she entered rooms. "Oh, I didn't realise it was 'bring a cop to work' day."

The policemen frowned at her, clearly not understanding her words. She smiled kindly at them. "Can I help you, gentleman?" She inquired as she neared Max's bed. The older, greying one spoke up.

"Hello, ma'am. We were just questioning Mr Sky and Professor Lucien here about the accident at the lab two days ago." She took note of the man's lack of the word doctor and nodded. A quick glance at the expression of Max Sky told her everything she needed to know about their 'questioning session', and she instantly made up her mind.

"I see. Then please continue." She said as she stepped up towards Max's bed and started fiddling with the monitor showcasing his vitals. Silence followed her words for a few seconds before the policeman spoke up again.

"Uh ma'am, this is a private interview." Nyla looked at the two men.

"And I understand that however I am this man's doctor and he is due for his hourly check-up," The policeman opened his mouth to counter, but she didn't let him. "I'm sorry, but Mr Sky here is an ICU patient, meaning his in intensive care and check-ups cannot be skipped or delay under any circumstances." She smiled at the two men. "You're welcome to continue your interview; however, you'll have to do it with me here."

The older policeman sent a glare her way but after a couple seconds nodded. She looked down at Max and winked before turning back to the monitor, feeling a shiver run down her spine at a familiar gaze directed towards her back. "Can you tell us what happened next, Mr Sky?" The younger policeman asked, and the injured man nodded slowly.

"We continue on with the experiment as planned, and everything was going smoothly until one of the boilers got too hot," Nyla made eye contact with Lucien who nodded, confirming everything the man was saying was true, "A bit of water escaped and short-circuited everything, c-causing a s-spark," Max stopped as he began to tremble. Nyla discreetly checked his IV line as a way of comfort, and the man continued after a few seconds "A spark that started a fire." He finished, and the younger policeman nodded.

The older then spoke up. "Is that true, Professor?" He directed a mean stare at Lucien who coolly nodded, not waving under the hostile look.

"Yes." The policeman smirked.

"But you weren't in the room." Lucien smiled at the man, though it held no warmth.

"I looked at the security footage, it caught everything that happened in that room." The policeman's smirk vanished instantly, and Nyla looked down at the ground to hide her smile.

"So, this was just an accident?" Lucien nodded.

"Yes, even scientists make miscalculations sometimes." The policeman scoffed.

"You must not be outstanding scientists then." He muttered, and Nyla frowned. He was a very bitter policeman. The greying policeman directed his gaze back at Max. "Could it be that your boss just didn't care about securing your safety?" He asked, that smirk back and Lucien's eyes darkened. Nyla's frown deepened, and she interrupted Max when he went to answer.

"And this interview is over." She said, and the bitter policeman directed his glare towards her.

"You can't do that!" Nyla smiled sweetly at him, pushing down her rising anger at the man's attitude.

"Yes, I can. I am this man's doctor and responsible for his health, and it's apparent that your questions are causing him stress which can be harmful to his recovery." She said calmly, and the man scoffed.

"So what? Stress is good." He said, and Nyla furrowed her eyebrows, directing her 'doctor glare', as Tessa called it, towards the policeman.

"Too much stress can cause death. Especially in critical patients," She said bluntly, and the man's glare lessened in intensity slightly "And you're not even technically supposed to be here." The man's eyes widened. "This is an intensive care unit meaning that every patient on this floor is in dire condition. Had you read the rules of this hospital you would know that you can't question this man without permission from his doctor which you didn't get." She looked at the ashamed man.

"Sorry, ma'am. We weren't aware." Nyla knew he was lying but didn't feel like pushing the issue. She sighed

"I understand, and please it's, doctor." She clarified, and the policeman nodded. He bowed towards Max and Lucien.

"I apologise for my unprofessional behaviour. It was an injustice to ask such questions." Nyla smiled at the man with forgiving warmness.

"It's already forgotten." She said, and the man nodded. The policemen began to leave, and Nyla escorted them out. "Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions." The older policeman nodded.

"Will do. Thank you, Doctor." Nyla nodded and watched the two men leave. She then gestured for a nurse to come over.

"Yes, Doctor?"

"Those two policemen, did you see them come in?" Nyla asked quietly, and the nurse shook her head.

"No, but can I have a look at the visitors' log and get back to you?" Nyla nodded her head, and the nurse walked away. Nyla gently closed the door to Max's room and sighed. She had not expected to have to deal with the police twice in one day.

"Are you okay?" A velvety voice asked, and Nyla turned her head to see Lucien standing behind her, looking at her with concern. She smiled at him.

"Of course. Nothing I can't handle." Lucien nodded and followed behind Nyla as she walked over to Max "Now that their gone, I'll continue where I left off. How are you today?" She asked the man, and he smiled.

"Okay. Pains not as bad today but that's probably because I'm filled with morphine, right?" Nyla nodded her head and took off her stethoscope.

"Yes, a nurse is coming to change your bandages in about 10 minutes, and it's better if you're a little," She made a loopy gesture and Max let out a chuckle. She smiled and put the stethoscope to his chest "Now take in a deep breath." Max obeyed, and Nyla listened to his heart.

"Is that why you're here?" Lucien asked, once again sitting down in his seat and staring at her curiously. Nyla directed her smile at him.

"I'm his doctor meaning I do all his check-ups," She stood up straighter, putting the stethoscope around her neck once again "Unless of course, I'm in surgery, stuck with another patient or not working, in which case another doctor will examination him, but I'll still sign off on it later though." Lucien leaned his head on his hand, his curiously turning to amusement.

"But you're a trauma surgeon? Not a plastic surgeon. Aren't there other patients more suited for your talents?" Nyla felt herself flush at his teasing words even though there was nothing embarrassing about them. She coughed.

"Mr Sky may be a burn patient, but his also a trauma patient. Besides," She looked down at the ground, the red dusting her cheeks deepening a little. "I'm very well trained in the treatment of burns." She felt Lucien's happiness increase at her reaction, and she pointedly ignored his gaze for the rest of the examination.

"Will I always look like this?" Max muttered a few minutes later, and Nyla looked up from writing in his chart, slightly surprised "Like some damaged monster?"

She glanced at Lucien to see him frowning at Max, having also heard his question. Nyla smiled down at Max "You do not look like a damaged monster, Max." She said gently, and he scoffed

"How would you know?" He asked, and Nyla's smile turned sorrowful.

"Because I've seen monsters and often they look like everyone else." She felt Lucien's gaze turn to her and quickly glanced at him, seeing his eyes filled with worry and curiosity but no pity. "And scars only look ugly if you believe that they are." Max looked at her with hesitation but nodded. She went back to writing in her chart. "And the skin grafts needed to help heal your 3rd-degree burns will help hide any of the really bad scarrings." She felt Max's spirits rise at that, and she looked up, smiling at him.

Her pager went off, and she fished it out of her pocket, glancing at it. "Duty calls?" Lucien asked, a strange emotion in his voice. She looked up at him to see he was smiling warmly at her. She nodded, smiling back.

"Duty calls." She flipped shut Max's chart and put it back in its carrier on the end of the bed, stuffing her pen and pager back in her pocket. "I'll be back to check on you later though," She said before giving them one last smile and making her way out the room. She started heading towards the elevator when someone called her name.

"Dr Correa." She stopped and saw the nurse from earlier walking up to her. "I looked at the visitors' logs and saw there was no trace of the two policemen signing in." She handed Nyla a copy of the check-in sheet, and the doctor frowned at the lack of names. That would explain why she wasn't paged earlier. But how did they get into Max's room? Surely the nurse at the desk would have stopped them. She looked at the male nurse currently typing away on a computer. She'll talk to him about it later.

Nyla thanked the nurse and continued towards the elevator, pressing the bottom floor once she got on. Hopefully, the policeman really did forget to sign in, and the male nurse just failed to stop them, making it just a small misunderstanding and this bad feeling she had was unwarranted. Nyla sighed and put her hands in her pockets, gaze directed towards the ground. Unfortunately, her gut had yet to be wrong about these kinds of things.

~~~~~

Nyla let out a relieved sigh as she stepped off the elevator and into the unfamiliar hallway that led to her apartment. A place she hadn't seen since she'd rushed off to the E.R to help with the car crash victims. Sometimes being a caring surgeon was hard. But it also earned her a couples days off to officially move in. She started walking towards her door, thinking over the day's events.

She'd talk to the male nurse, and he'd told her that he hadn't been present when the policemen had arrived at the ICU. He'd appeared genuinely honest, and she'd forgiven him. Unfortunately, that meant that someone else had let the policemen into Max Sky's room since all visitors have to get cleared to go into a burn patient room and the policemen hadn't been wearing gloves.

She'd considered asking Lucien about it and had even begun to text him but then thought against. Why would he question two policemen walking into his colleague's room to ask questions about the accident? His lab was funded by the government after all, and such an accident would require an investigation to make sure no wrongdoing took place. And Max Sky was in the same boat so she couldn't ask them. In the end, she'd called Tessa about it who'd promised to look into.

Nyla reached her door and took out her key, unlocking it. She took in a deep breath and leaned her head against it, eyes closed. She really hoped she was being paranoid for no reason. The last thing she needed was a government conspiracy to blow up in her face or something similar.

"Someone looks very tried." A voice said, and Nyla tensed, quickly spinning around only to see Lucien smiling at her with a teasing gleam in his eyes. She relaxed and let out a sigh.

"Oh, Professor Lucien, it's you." He tilted his head curiously, eyes scanning over her body.

"Of course, I'm the only other resident on this floor. Why, were you expecting someone else?" He asked that teasing tone back. Nyla smiled a tired smile.

"A friend of ours?" She said, throwing back to their first conversation. Lucien smiled at the reference and took a step closer.

"You do look very tried, though. Just got home?" He inquired, and Nyla nodded, leaning back against her door.

"Yeah," She closed her eyes and chuckled quietly "I never seem to realise how tired I am until I'm standing out front of my door." Lucien hummed in agreement.

"I want to thank you for today," Nyla blinked her eyes open, staring at the professor before her with confusion "For chasing away those policemen." Nyla smiled at him.

"No need. No one should have to answer questions like that, even if they do help with an investigation." Lucien looked at her with some sort of fascination, as if he'd never heard that belief before. "Besides, it's kind of my job." She added on as an afterthought.

"Regardless, I'd still like to thank you." She titled her head curiously.

"How so?" She asked, and he leaned forward, an amused glint in his eyes.

"Can I borrow you for the weekend?" He asked, and Nyla blinked, a little confused. He wanted to 'borrow' her?

"To do what?" She asked, and he smiled happily

"Go on walks together, share meals, while away the time..." He trailed off before leaning in even closer. "In conventional terminology, I believe that's called dating."

Nyla felt herself flush at his words and proximity "D-dating?" She stuttered, and Lucien chuckled.

"Don't read too much into it. We're just pursuing interesting activities together." Nyla nodded, a bit absent-minded. "Is that a yes?" He inquired, and Nyla broke out of whatever daze she'd been caught in. She smiled brightly at him.

"Yeah, okay. Sounds great!" She said, and Lucien leaned back, smiling.

"Excellent." He said, and Nyla felt her curiosity swell.

"So where are we going?" She asked, and he winked at her.

"It's a secret." He said, and Nyla nodded.

"Well, I don't have work for the next few days so that shouldn't be a problem." Lucien's eyes widened.

"Oh, really?" He asked, and she nodded.

"Yeah, my boss gave me a few days off to make up for the ones I lost by coming in to help with the car crash victims." Lucien's eyes flooded with sorrow.

"I heard about the crash on the news. Was it really as bad as they said?" Nyla nodded, the happy buzz she'd gotten from Lucien's request fading. "Then you must be exhausted. Go and get some rest. I'll call you on Friday once I get off work."

She nodded again and got up off the door, opening it up. She turned back to look at the professor "Goodnight, Lucien" She smiled and offered little wave before heading into her apartment and closing the door.

~~~~~

He stood there watching the door for a little while before heading back into his apartment, that small smile still present. He hadn't expected to run into Nyla at all that day. He'd assumed she was no longer Max's doctor since he wasn't an E.R patient anymore and she hadn't come in to check on him the day before, but it appeared he was wrong. He remembered the look of shock and confusion that had passed over her face when she'd seen the two policemen. But that was quickly replaced with that glowing smile.

She'd surprised him again when she'd refused to leave the room because of the interview and then she'd stood up for herself when the older policeman had been trying to subtly ridicule her. She'd been angry for him when he'd been insulted and had forgiven for him when he'd planned not to. She'd treated both men with kindness even after they'd taken advantage of her trust. His confusion increased after she'd admitted to knowing monsters. She was a mystery, and he was determined to figure her out...

Chapter Text

(Thursday 16th, April)

She sighed, eyes scanning over the words on the screen to make sure that everything was spelt correctly and made grammatical sense. At that moment in time, Brooke sorely regretted making that stupid deal with Victor. She reprimanded herself for being an idiot and rising to his challenge. She'd played right into his trap, and now she was stuck writing an unnecessary article about the company she worked for to satisfied a capitalist tyrant's 'inquiry' into the company's efficiency, which was absolute bull-crap. She looked it up, and this was not how he needed to found out that information.

But she would not give up and give him that satisfaction. She would write a kick-ass article like she'd promised. It's just, it turned out that writing an article on Loveland Publishing House was a lot harder then she'd initially thought, especially since Mr Heralds couldn't help her as her article was meant to be 'uninfluenced'. She read over a line and, realising it didn't make sense, she quickly fixed it only to realise the sentence had made sense and she'd just misread it.

Brooke let out a loud groan and fell back onto her bed, eyes closed, and arms stretched out. The papers and books of research she'd gathered bounced at the sudden movements of the mattress. She was not having fun, not one bit. Why had she agreed to have a meeting with her boss at LFG? If she had the Evol of time travel, she would go back in time and tell her boss that they didn't need LFG investment, LPH could find some other company. But alas, that was not her Evol, so she was stuck.

A tiny, fluffy paw began pawing at her nose, and Brooke giggled, opening her eyes. Haya was staring at her from above, yellow eyes curious and open, the light from the morning sun illuminating her. She let out a little meow and continued to paw at her owners face, seeking her attention. Brooke lifted her head and snuggled into the kitten's chest, sending her tumbling onto her side. The kitten meow and quickly stood up, pouncing over to her owner's shoulders and putting both paws onto it, enjoying the feel of the wool underneath them.

Brooke turned her head to look at the kitten and raised her hand, giving the tiny creature a good scratch under the chin. Haya removed her paws from her shoulder, and Brooke sat up, turning to face the kitten fully and continuing her affections, smiling peacefully. Haya was a very affectionate kitten, preferring to spend time with Brooke or just being with her then playing on her own. It didn't really bother Brooke, but it's meant Haya became a meowing annoyance whenever she left the apartment, making Brooke glad her apartment took up an entire floor. She watched the kitten begin to paw at the hem of her sweater.

At least the little kitten kept her claws retracted most of the time. She'd asked the vet about it, and he'd told her that while it was an odd behaviour, it didn't mean there was something wrong with her claws. The sound of her ring tone broke her out of her peaceful state, and Brooke turned, grabbing her phone and answering the call, not bothering to look at the caller ID, her attention back on Haya "This is Rosette."

"It's me" A deep voice answered, and Brooke frowned, immediately on edge and looking away from Haya. The voice didn't sound familiar.

"Me, who?" She asked, masking any suspension in her voice with playfulness.

"Victor." She blinked. Victor was calling her? But the deadline wasn't until tomorrow.

"Oh. What can I do for you, sir?"

"I'd like to ask you about something?"

"Okay?" Her voice was a little nervous.

"Don't worry, this has nothing to do with LPH's investment."

"I wasn't worried. I'm confident in my abilities." Pride laced her voice. 

"Really? Because I'm not so confident in you." Brooke frowned at the doubt in his voice.

"Why?"

"I looked at your resume." Brooke blinked. Resume?

"I have a resume?" She heard a scoff.

"Obviously." Oops, she didn't mean to say that though out loud. "Average grades in school but a jumper career-wise. You have a bachelor degree in Art as well as Criminology and Criminal Justice but haven't pursued any career that uses those degrees."

"That's not true! I helped the police with a crime just last week." She stated matter-of-factly.

"...You have no sense of stability. Other than LPH, you haven't held done a single job since graduating, so I don't think you will stick around long enough to meet LFG's standards in the short-term." Brooke rolled her eyes. He was acting as if she was the one asking for an investment and not her boss.

But the man was right. She'd held lots of mini-jobs since graduating university, deciding to pursue her many interests instead of getting another career since her job as an author paid her well enough that she didn't really need another one. Plus, she enjoyed being an author. Though she was officially an artist and criminal consultant but they were more like hobby careers. Not that she was going to tell Victor that.

"Well, other than the career jumping, I am confident." Wow, that made her sound dumb.

"That sounded kind of dumb." She held in a sigh. Trust Victor to point it out.

"... Let's not talk about me, sir. Didn't you have something to ask me?"

"Remember what you said the last time you were at LFG?" Brooke frowned.

"Last time?" She recalled the meeting in her mind and went over the conversation they'd had, eyes widening when she found what he was referring to. "Oh, you mean the 'Time Freezer' comment."

"Obviously." She knew it had been rude, and now that she was thinking about it, the need to apologise washed over her.

"Yeah about that..."

"What's that?"

"I'm sorry."

"Why the apology?"

"It had been kind of rude. Sorry."

"So you do know the meaning of 'rudeness'?"

"I know it was brash, but I'd been surprised and it just kind of slipped out..."

"Don't dell too much on it. I've forgotten about it already." If that was the case, why was he calling?

"So this is not what you wanted to talk about?"

"Not bad! You're not as dumb as I thought." Brooke rolled her eyes.

"Hooray."

"I just want to make sure you'll keep what happened the day of the car accident a secret, right?" She blinked. Was he referring to his Evol? Why would she tell anyone about that?

"Of course! We're in the same boat after all and who would I tell?" Well, there were a lot of people she could tell, but that wasn't the point.

"...Alright then. Get on with your article."

"Yes, sir!"

"I'm hanging up." Brooke went to say goodbye, but a sharp pain in her hip stopped her

"Ow!" She looked down to see Haya had her claws stuck in her sweater and was poking her skin. "Haya!" The cat looked up at her innocently and went to try and pull her claws out again. Brooke sighed and quickly pressed the end call button, not checking to see Victor hadn't hung up yet. She put her phone down and grabbed the little kitten gently, using one hand to untangle her claws, and held her against her chest, shaking her head at the mischievous kitten. "Trouble maker."

The kitten looked up at her and licked her chops, a sign she was hungry. Brooke glanced at her open laptop, seeing her word count was around 1900, about 4 pages, and decided she could use a break. Especially after that phone call with Victor. She got up off the bed and made her way to the kitchen. She placed Haya on the bench and grabbed her tiny plate-like bowl. She opened up the fridge, grabbed the opened tin of wet food from last night, and walked back over to the bench.

Haya sat down and watched her fill up her cat bowl, having been trained to wait until Brooke signalled she was done before going to eat. Brooke grabbed the jug full of dry food and poured a bit onto the wet food before signalling to Haya to eat. She leaned back against the bench arms crossed in thought. She'd promised not to tell anyone about Victor's Evol but forget to ask him not to tell anyone she was an Evolver. She sighed. She just hoped he didn't get curious about it when she went to meet him tomorrow.

~~~~~

(Friday 17, April)

Staring up at the giant building before her, Brooke took in a deep breath. She was back. After four days of tedious research, quick typing and painful correcting, she was back at LFG to give the CEO his pointless article. Because it was pointless and nothing he or anyone said could convince her otherwise. That's not to say she wasn't proud of her work because she was, very proud, in fact. It's just that it was utterly unnecessary stress causer that didn't really need to be written.

But it had been written and in under 5 minutes would be judge by a capitalist tyrant. Brooke let out her breath and adjusted her messenger bag before making her way into LFG. She headed for the receptionist's desk and got the woman's attention. "Brooke Rosette here to see the CEO." The woman nodded and started typing on her computer.

"Just head up to the top floor. He's currently not busy, so you're free to go in. Just be sure to knock." Brooke smiled and nodded, making her way over to the elevator. She got in and pressed the top button, before leaning against the bars and watching the numbers rise. She was the only one in the elevator, and nobody boarded on her way up. Brooke sighed and thought about the upcoming meeting. She wasn't nervous about her article. Brooke was confident in her work and would never hand in something she wasn't proud of. It's was just that Mr Heralds wouldn't be there so it would just be the two of them. And Brooke was afraid she'd let her mouth run wild.

She could admit that she wasn't the best at holding back insults towards people that got on her nerves. And Victor definitely did that. Normally, it didn't matter because Mr Heralds found it hilarious, and her editor, Milo, knew not to take it personally. But Victor was the CEO of LFG and a potential investor. She hadn't ended their first official meeting on a good note, calling him a jerk. Brooke sighed. While she normally had good impulse control over her mouth, Victor was one of those people that tested that control. The elevator reached the top floor, and Brooke took in a deep breath. She could do this. The doors opened, and Brooke stepped out, making her way towards Victor's office.

She stopped at his doors and raised her hand to knock when a loud feminine voice came through the door. Brooke frowned and lowered her hand, putting her ear up against the door. She heard Victor respond, voice deep and gruff. The feminine voice replied, anger evident in her tone. Brooke leaned back. It would seem they were having an argument. Brooke turned on her heel and made her over to a nearby seat. She only ever eavesdropped on the important conversations, and an argument between a quarrelling couple didn't count. 

Brooke sighed and took out her phone, seeing she had a new text. It was from Tessa.

Hey, Bee. I was wondering if you could swing by the station and help me with a case - T

Brooke smiled. She loved helping Tessa out with her police work, it was one of the only things she could help the woman with anyway. Nyla had always been the tutor in their study sessions.

Sure, I'll come by when my meetings over - B

She was responding to a text from Milo when Victor's office door swung open. Brooke held in her jump and looked up to see a woman with curly brown hair off to the side and purple eyes covered in shades stomped out. She was dressed in expensive clothing and looked pretty pissed off. Her eyes locked onto Brooke and she wandered over. "This is the CEO's office. What are you doing here?"

"I'm here to give the man an article he requested I write," Brooke said, deciding not to lie to the pissed off woman. She rolled her eyes.

"Yeah, right. I don't want to hear your clumsy excuses." Brooke frowned at the woman's tone. Had she done something to upset the woman? "What's your name?" She asked, and Brooke smiled at the woman.

"I'm Brooke Rosette." The woman scoffed.

"So you're Loveland Publishing House's trump card? I heard your boss is a real tool." Brooke dropped her smile and levelled the woman with a frown. Nobody insulted Mr Hearlds, sure the man was strange and sometimes annoying, but he'd done a lot for Brooke, and she wouldn't let this woman tarnish his name.

"And I heard pissy floozies such as yourself had talent. Guess we were both wrong." The woman glared at her. Brooke would have been intimated if the woman was actually scary, but she just looked like an angry toddler.

"How dare you? Don't you know who I am?" Brooke put on a false, bright smile.

"Nope!" She said proudly, and the woman glared even harder.

"I'm Chik!" Brooke frowned. The name sounded familiar, but nothing immediately came to mind. She shrugged, and the woman huffed. "Whatever." She muttered then leaned in close, pointing her hand at Brooke. "I'm warning you. Don't harbour any unrealistic fantasies about Victor." Brooke blinked. What? "He. Is. Mine." With that, Chik strode off. Brooke followed the woman with her eyes, promptly confused. Had she done something to make it seem like she was interested in Victor? The idea made Brooke want to laugh. She was more likely to behead the arrogant prick then date the guy. Brooke shook off the interaction and stood up, making her way over to Victor's office.

The door was cracked slightly, and Brooke peeked through it to see the kind of mood Victor was in. He looked tired, hand resting against his forehead, a frown present on his lips. His eyes were closed, and his tie was slightly loosened. So not a good mood then. Brooke study the man. The light shining through the window made him look very handsome, despite his tired state. She could understand why Chik was interested in the guy. Brooke blinked and drew her head back. Of course, just because she could see his physical appeal didn't mean she was interested. He may be handsome, but he seriously lacked in the personality department. Brooke shook her head and banished those ridiculous thoughts to the back of her head. She then raised her hand and knocked.

"Sir, may I come in?" She asked, peeking through the door. Victor looked up, and his brows unfurrowed.

"Come in." He said, and Brooke made her way inside. She gestured at his tie, and he looked down, hurryingly fixing it. He then stopped. "When did you get here?" He asked, and Brooke smiled.

"Just as that woman was leaving." Victor frowned.

"You mean Chik?" Brooke nodded, hitting herself internally. How had she forgotten the woman's name, she had literally just insulted her?!

"Yeah, her." She said, rubbing her wrist behind her back, out of Victor's view. It was a nervous habit she couldn't break.

"Did she say anything to you?" He asked, and Brooke blinked. The woman had said a lot, but she didn't think it was necessary to tell Victor. If they were together, it's possible Chik would rant to him about it later.

"Nothing of importance." She said, which was the truth. Victor nodded, then stopped for a second.

"There is nothing between her and me. Don't go around spreading any rumours." He said, and Brooke frowned. Why was he telling her this?

"Why are you telling me this? I don't care about who you have the hots for." She said, and Victor raised an eyebrow at her, causing Brooke to flush slightly. She probably could have phrased that better. "What I mean is I don't really care for other people's love life, and I'm not a gossiper, so there is no need to worry." Victor nodded, then coughed.

"Why are you here?" He asked, changing the subject, and Brooke smiled.

"I've come to deliver the article you requested I write. " She said, taking it out of her bag. It was printed and ready to be read. She offered to him. He nodded in understanding.

"Ah, go ahead then." Brooke blinked.

"I'm sorry?" Victor frowned.

"Read it to me." Brooke frowned.

"Do I look like a primary school teacher to you?" Victor raised his eyebrows again and Brooke cursed herself internally. This is what she'd been afraid of! "What I mean is, I don't have time to read it to you. I have somewhere else I need to be." She smiled at him and Victor leaned back in his chair and study Brooke for a few second, gaze intense. Brooke met his gaze head-on, not backing down. After a minute, Victor opened his mouth.

"If you won't read it to me, you'll just have to come to the investment meeting on Monday." He said, and Brooke blinked. What was with this guy? Did he not understand that Mr Heralds was asking for the investment and not herself? Though, she really didn't want to read it to him and if going to an investment meeting meant she could get out of it, then she would. It's not like she had anything better to do on Monday, anyway.

"Fine." She said, and Victor smirked. It sent a wave of anger through Brooke that she only just managed to contain. Instead of insulting the CEO, she placed her article down on his desk. "If that will be all." She said, turning to leave.

"You should treat me with more respect," Victor said, and Brooke turned back to look at the guy. "I could be your new boss." Brooke smiled at the CEO, a hit of playfulness in it.

"No, you would be my bosses' boss. Your role as LPH's investor doesn't affect me in any way." She said, and Victor frowned, sitting up. "I'm just a writer." She said, and Victor stared at her, eyes searching for something in her expression. He then chuckled.

"I don't believe that."

~~~~~

"'I don't believe that' What does he mean he doesn't believe that? What does he think I am? A mind reader?" Brooke ranted, pacing back and forth, ignoring the confused look Tessa kept sending her way. "Stupid capitalist tyrant," Brooke muttered, and Tessa chuckled.

"Sounds like you had a bad day." Brooke scoffed then sighed. She was probably just overreacting, but she couldn't help it. The last time someone that said those words to her, her entire world had fallen apart. Of course, she knew Victor meant no harm, was probably just trying to rustle her feathers, but it had been hard to suppress the feeling of panic that had overcome her in that moment. So she'd told the man she had to leave and bolted out of his office without giving him a chance to respond. She would probably get an earful from Mr Heralds when he found out, but it was better than the alternative.

"Yeah, you could say that." Brooke then shook her head and smiled. "But it doesn't matter. What did you need help with?" Brooke asked, and Tessa frowned but let the subject drop.

"I was wondering if you could give me a profile of someone who would cause a car crash."

"Is this for the multiple car-crash that happened?" Tessa blinked.

"How'd you know I was investigating that?" Brooke smirked.

"Because Nyla actually calls me to talk about things." Tessa blushed and muttered something under her breath that Brooke couldn't catch. She laughed then answered the woman's question. "A profile like that is difficult. Technically speaking, anybody could cause a car crash and for many different reasons."

"I don't need specifics, just a basic profile that'll help with our investigation." Brooke nodded.

"Alright, I'll need everything you have on the guy." Tessa nodded.

"I'll have Gavin put something together." Brooke raised her eyebrow at the unknown name. "My partner." Brooke nodded her head then smiled playfully.

"Already giving your partner the harder jobs? Slacker." Tessa flushed.

"You know I'm no good at reading!" She yelled, and Brooke laughed. "Don't call me a slacker!" Brooke laughed harder, and Tessa blinked before realising she'd been played, and pouted. "Not funny." She muttered, crossing her arms, and Brooke laughed even harder. She didn't realise how much she needed to laugh and couldn't help wrapping Tessa in an appreciative hug.

~~~~~

Victor frowned at the completed article on his desk. He'd been lying if he said he wasn't impressed by Brooke's work. He could now see why she'd won so many awards for her published works. The article made him want to genuinely invest in the failing publishing house. To help it and see it raise from the bankruptcy it was currently suffering from. It wasn't the article that had Victor frowning, it was Brooke herself. She'd been different today without the pressure of her boss in the room. Delivering playful insults with no filter on her mouth. 

Making her reaction to his final words all the more confusing. He'd enjoyed how feisty she was being. It had been a long time since someone had talked to him that way. He'd been actually having fun. So her reaction to his words confused him. He thought he'd saw genuine panic go through her eyes and he'd never seen someone leave his office so quickly. He wanted to call her and find out what it was about, but he didn't want to upset her even more. He hadn't been lying though. He didn't think she was just a writer and her response to those words proved that. He was going to find out who she really was...

 

Chapter Text

(Friday 17th, April)

Aria had so much excitement coursing through her that she felt like she was going to explode. In less than an hour, she was going to officially start the collaboration project with Kiro. Aria began bouncing up and down, needing to release some energy. "Can you stop?" She heard Bella say and Aria turned, smiling at her.

"I'm sorry. I can't help it. I'm so excited!" She said, doing a jump. Bella smiled.

"I can see that, but I still have lots of paperwork to do." Aria frowned but stopped bouncing. Instead, she took a seat at the conference table and unconsciously began tapping her hand up and down. She had so many ideas coursing through her head on the songs she and Kiro could write, on the music style they should do and on the music videos they could film. Love songs, sad songs, fast melodies, slow melodies, fun music videos and tragic music videos. Her mind was moving a mile a minute. A hand slammed down on top of hers and Aria blinked, coming out of her daze. She looked at Bella to see the woman quietly seething. "Why don't you join Kenny in the lobby and greet Kiro when he gets here?" She grunted out through gritted teeth, and Aria smiled.

"Okay." She got up and quickly left the conference room, not looking back to check on Bella. If the woman wanted her gone, she was gone. Aria wasn't brave enough to cross the woman when she was mad. She made her way to the stairs and started descending them. While the elevator was quicker, the thought of it moving up and down sent waves of nausea through Aria's stomach. While not a lot of things could slow Aria, her motion sickness was definitely one of of those things. She reached the bottom of the stairs and scanned the room, looking for Kenny. He was standing by the door, looking professional as always. She bounded over like an excited puppy. "Hey, Kenny."

He looked down and smiled at her. "Hello, Aria. What are you doing down here." Aria smiled up at the man.

"Bella kicked me out of the conference room, so I came down here." She said, waving as a familiar agent walked by.

"Excited about Kiro's visit, huh." Aria beamed, slightly flushed.

"Maybe a little." Kenny laughed but didn't say anything else. Aria decided to check out the lobby. It was busy, like usual, with agents and clients wandering about. Aria waved to anyone she recognised, but it wasn't a lot. While she was well known in the figure skating world, the superstar world was still foreign to her. She'd met other rising singers and actors before but none who were as well known and loved as Kiro. The fact that she was going to collab with him was a little nerve-racking. Scratch that, it was very nerve-racking. The last time she'd felt this nervous was when she'd skated in front of essential critics for the first time.

Aria felt Kenny touched her shoulder, and she looked at the tall bodyguard. He gestured to the front doors, and Aria looked forward and saw a black van had pulled up. The sliding door opened and Aria watched a familiar agent get out. She felt a joyful smile crawl onto her face. Savin talked with a few people before turning back and giving Kiro the get-go to get out. The blonde superstar was dressed in a cap, glasses and had his white hoodie pulled up. He looked ridiculous, but the outfit was doing its job at concealing his identity from any fans that could be watching.

They hadn't announced their collaboration project to the public yet, with Bella and Savin wanting to see if they could actually produce a song first. So they had to take care of where Kiro and Aria were spotted in public in case any nosy fans got a little too nosy. While Aria didn't think Kiro cared too much, she was worried about the backlash. Kiro's fans were extremely loyal and loved him to pieces so she couldn't help but worry about what they would think about her working with him. After all, a false rumour or nasty backlash can mean the end of a singers career. And while Aria much preferred skating, she wasn't ready for her dabble into the music world to end just yet.

Kiro made eye contact and offered her a smile and a small wave. Aria waved back and turned to Kenny. "I'll go tell Bella Kiro's here." He nodded, and Aria spun on her heel, racing towards the stairs and up them. She took them two at a time and quickly located the conference room Bella was in. She burst into the room, making Bella jump. "Kiro is here, Bella!" She yelled and opened her eyes. Just in time to duck the pen thrown in her direction.

"How many times have I told you not to burst into rooms like that! It freaks people out." Bella grumbled, and Aria chuckled nervously, rubbing the back of her neck.

"Sorry. Guess I'm more excited then I thought." She said, and Bella muttered 'clearly' under her breath.

"Okay, why do you head to the conference room we organised, and I'll collect Kiro." She said, and Aria nodded, saluting her agent.

"Yes, ma'am." She then turned on her heel and raced down the hall towards the largest conference room on the floor. She stopped at the double doors and opened them up. Only to be met with her version of heaven. Food of all different kinds decorated the conference room table, and Aria felt her stomach growl at the sight. There were sweets and savouries, greens and meats, dairy and fruits. Aria sent a thankful prayer to whatever gods existed above before rushing in and taking a place at the table, digging it. Several minutes later, the double doors opened again, and Kiro appeared.

"Your superhero has arrived-Woah!" He said, dropping his hero pose to gap at the assortment of food before him. Aria giggled and waved. He waved back absentmindedly. "What is all this?" He asked once he'd recovered and stepped into the room.

"It's Aria's working food," Bella said from behind the shocked superstar, and Aria giggled at the jump Kiro made. Savin came in from behind her and looked at the assortment of food with a disapproving frown.

"Isn't this all incredibly unhealthy? What about keeping her in shape?" He asked, and Aria watched as Bella walked towards her, rolling her eyes.

"Firstly, that whole thing about keeping superstars fit is prejudice and completely unnecessary." Aria giggled at Savin's surprised look. "And secondly, I have to feed Aria this much otherwise, she would get incredibly sick."

"I could even die!" Aria said and a look of worry past over Kiro's face.

"What do you mean?" He asked as Aria unwrapped a chocolate stick.

"I have a very aggressive metabolism, meaning I digest food way to fast," Aria said, picking up a can of whipped cream. "I have to eat something filling at least once every hour; otherwise, my digestive juices would start eating my organs." She said, shaking the can and applying the cream to the chocolate stick. "It's not horrible, it just means I'm hungry," Aria said, taking a bite of the chocolate stick. She then opened her mouth and poured whipped cream straight into her mouth. "All the time!"

"It also means you can't lose weight or get drunk," Bella said, and Aria nodded and swallowed.

"That too." She said before taking another bite of the chocolate stick. Kiro looked shocked and worried, and Aria took pity on the poor guy. She smiled at him. "Really, I'm fine. I've lived with this my whole life. It really means I just eat more than everyone else." Kiro nodded, still looking daze slightly.

"Well, Kiro doesn't have an aggressive metabolism, so he is only allowed to eat the fruit." That snapped Kirpo out of his daze, and he looked at Savin, offended. Aria laughed and finished off her chocolate stick. Now that Kiro was here and she had food, her nerves at the collaboration had decreased. She shook the whipped cream can and poured more into her mouth as Kiro began arguing with Savin about his diet.

~~~~~

"My favourite sport is skating, obviously. What's yours?" Aria asked, and Kiro tapped his pen against his chin, pondering.

"Gaming." He said, and Aria laughed.

"That's not a sport!" Kiro looked offended.

"Yes, it is! Gaming is one of the most fantastic sports to ever be invented, and you can't convince me otherwise." He insisted and Aria smirked.

"If that's the case, then I change my favourite sport to eating!" Kiro put a hand to his heart.

"How could you betray skating so easily?" Aria smiled and picked up her sandwich.

"Eating keeps me alive." Kiro shook his head with false disgust.

"You should be ashamed of yourself!" He said. They both stared at each other for a few seconds before bursting out into laughter. They have been doing this for a while now, joking around as they filled out the personality sheets Bella and Savin had given them. Apparently, getting to know each other was the first step in songwriting. To learn each other's interests to make the perfect collab songs. Aria found the activity very fun. She was learning all about Kiro, what his favourite foods were, his favourite past times, and he was, in turn, learning about her.

Their laughter died down, and they moved on to the next question. "So, do you have any siblings?" Kiro asked, tone light. The question made Aria pause. A heart-wrenching pain spread through her heart as memories she'd done her best to try and suppress flashed behind her eyes. She looked away from Kiro and took a bite of her sandwich so he wouldn't see the pain in her pink eyes.

"Yes." She said in the happiest tone she could muster. It sounded compelling to her ears, and Kiro seemed to believe it because he laughed.

"Lucky, I wished I had a sibling." Aria willed the memories into the back of her mind and ignored the pain in her heart. She looked up at Kiro and gave him a bright smile.

"They are a pain." She said, and he laughed. She changed the subject from their families, and they continued to make their way through the sheet. By the end of the day, Aria was feeling better and had forgotten about the incident altogether.

~~~~~

I had a lot of fun today - K

Aria smiled down at her phone as she stuffed popcorn into her mouth and sent out a reply.

Same. Can't wait for the next session, Super Kiro - A

Haha. Same, Miss Chips - K

Aria put her phone down and turned back to her computer. She logged on and started typing out a complicated code into a black window. A few seconds later, the black window turned into a database labelled 'JF' on all kinds of different things. Aria began her daily task of scrolling through it and updating it with all sorts of different things she learned. As she was getting to the section on hackers, her phone rang. She looked at the ID and smiled before picking it up. "Hello, Tess."

"Hey, Ari." The voice on the other side of the line responded. "How have you been?" Tessa asked, and Aria sat up, turning towards a machine that transferred the call onto an earpiece.

"Same old same old." She said, taking the phone away from her ear and inserting it. A few seconds later, the machine beeped, and Aria picked up the earpiece, putting it into her ear. "How about you?" She asked, lying back down and returning to her computer.

"Same old same old." Aria laughed at Tessa's mimicked reply. "I have a favour to ask." Aria frowned and stopped typing.

"What's up?"

"I was wondering if you could look up a name for me?" The police officer asked, and Aria nodded.

"Of course." She said, switching to a search engine of the same design as the database. "What's the name?"

"Tony McHens," Tessa said, and Aria typed out the name. A few seconds later, a list of information came up and Aria relayed everything that Tessa asked for.

~~~~~

Kiro sat at home, scrolling his phone, looking at the last text message Aria had sent. He smiled at the nickname. Super Kiro. He turned off his phone and threw it aside. He had a lot of fun today. Aria was a fun and cute girl to be around. She was just a ball of energy like she was always ready to run a marathon. And she ate like her stomach was a black hole. Which it kind of was if what she said about her metabolism was true. Kiro had search it up and didn't find any cases of metabolisms as bad as Aria's, but he lived in a world where people, including himself, had superpowers, so it wasn't that far fetched.

What was confusing was Aria's reaction to his sibling question. Before she'd taken a bite of her sandwich, she'd gone incredibly still, and Kiro thought he'd seen pain in her eyes. He'd allowed the woman to drop the topic because he didn't want to ever see that look in her pink eyes again. Aria was too bright to ever feel such pain. Still, Kiro was curious. What was the story behind that reaction? He hadn't found anything in his web search, so it wasn't public knowledge. Regardless, he'd keep searching. It was his mission, after all... 

 

Chapter Text

(Monday 20th, April)

A knock sounded at the file room door, startling Tessa and causing her to drop the file she was reading. She made to reach for her gun when her eyes caught sight of a familiar head of brown hair, and she sighed. "Damn it, Gavin. You startled me." She said, halting her hand. Gavin had that indifferent look on his face like always.

"Sorry." He said, and Tessa waved him off and bent down to pick up the file she'd dropped.

"It's cool. Was there something you needed?" She asked, gathering the sheets of paper that had fallen out and reorganising them.

"I was just wondering if you've found anything? You've been in here a while." He asked, and Tessa felt embarrassment course through her. She had yet to tell Gavin about her difficulty when it came to reading, even though she was pretty sure he'd figure it out over the past few days they'd spent investigating the multiple pile car crash. It was just embarrassing to admit. She coughed and stood up.

"Yeah, Tony McHens was a picture-perfect citizen on the outside but had a few skeletons hiding in his closet." She said, walking towards the research desk and sitting down, trying to find the page she'd been reading before.

"Like what?" Gavin asked, walking over. Tessa felt her cheeks go red as she lowered her head.

"I'm not sure. I'd only started reading through them when you interrupted me." She said, and Gavin nodded, smiling slightly.

"That's okay. Take your time." Tessa cursed her body at the warmth that flowed through it at Gavin's acceptance of her slow reading. She nodded, not bringing herself to look at him, and instead flicked to Tony McHens' page of charges he'd had against him.

"Was there anything else you needed?" She asked, trying to find the sentence she'd been at when Gavin interrupted.

"Yeah, I came to give you something." He said, and Tessa looked up at her partner, blinking. Gavin was holding up a silver chain bracelet that had a golden ginkgo leaf in the centre, holding it together. "This has a tracker in it. I'd like you to put it on so I can always find you when you're in trouble." Tessa felt the red in her cheeks increase, and she looked down, unable to maintain eye contact with Gavin's golden eyes.

"I can take care of myself, Gavin." She muttered but found herself holding out her wrist anyway. She heard more so then saw the smile on Gavin's lips.

"I know, but it will make me feel better." Tessa nodded, still avoiding eye contact with Gavin as she felt him clip the bracelet around her wrist. The metal was cold and foreign against her skin, but it was light and didn't catch on the hairs of her arm. She drew her hand back and examined the bracelet. It fitted her surprisingly well. "Now, I'll always be able to find you."

"You know giving people trackers is kind of weird and creepy?" Tessa said blandly, and a look over panic briefly brushed over Gavin's face. "Good thing your my partner then, isn't it?" She said, smiling at him. Gavin smiled back before his face went back to that indifference setting. He then left her to continue her reading. Tessa examined the bracelet more thoroughly once he was gone. It was beautiful and looked hand-crafted. But it was the ginkgo leaf that intrigued her the most. Why would Gavin choose a ginkgo leaf of all things? And a golden one?

Those flashes of a shattered memory Tessa had been experiencing all week flashed behind her eyes again, but like every other time, they were gone before a proper memory could form. Tessa sighed and went back to reading Tony McHens' file. While she couldn't figure out her memories, she could figure out the mystery that was Tony McHens and his wife, Gabby. They had been victims, and the first fatalities of the multiple pile car-crash and Tessa was determined to figure out the haze that surrounded their lives.

~~~~~

"We looked around their home and found this note, sir," Tessa said, putting a note that was in an evidence slip onto Chief Colon's desk and taking a step back. "It details a set of coordinates."

"Which lead to what?"

"An abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of the city. We are seeking permission to check it out, sir." Gavin said, and Chief Colon nodded.

"Do you believe the McHens were the real targets of the multiple pile car-crash?" He asked, and Tessa glanced at Gavin.

"They are the only one's connected to any crime. Everyone else was clean." She said, and the chief nodded.

"In other words, they're your best bet." Tessa and Gavin both nodded. "Okay, I'll have a team on standby if things get hairy, but you two will have to go in alone. If you find anything suspicious, call it in." Gavin and Tessa nodded before leaving the chief's office.

"That was a lot easier then I thought it would be. The chief at my old precinct would never agree to anything," Tessa said, and Gavin nodded.

"Yeah, Chief Colon agrees to everything," Gavin said, leading Tessa out the front of the building and towards his motorbike. Gavin had actually taken her advice and upgraded his seats to be more comfortable. He'd done it that day as well. "Hop on." He said, throwing Tessa her helmet.

"Where are we going?" Tessa asked.

"The warehouse," Gavin said like it was a well-known fact of the universe.

"What about the team the chief was setting up?" Tessa asked. While she had disobeyed her old chief several times, she was new to this precinct and was actually liking her new job. She didn't want to be fired.

"We don't need them," Gavin said, and Tessa still hesitated in putting the helmet on. She couldn't understand why, but she felt a sense of foreboding and felt they could actually use the backup. "I'll protect you," Gavin said, and that sent a wave of irritation through Tessa.

"I'm perfectly capable of protecting myself." She said, putting the helmet on and climbing aboard. She heard Gavin mutter 'I know' as she wrapped her arms around his waist, and before she could respond, they were speeding down the street at an unnatural speed. Tessa knew that Gavin was an Evolver, she'd seen him hovering above the station on Friday, but she hadn't told him that she knew. Though, she didn't think Gavin was trying to hide it considering he been literally flying above a police station where anyone could have seen him.

Tessa turned her head to the side, resting her head on Gavin's back as she watched the city speed pass. It was all a blur. She enjoyed this part of travelling with Gavin, to see Loveland as nothing but a mixture of colours blended by the wind warping her eyes. She found it truly beautiful and wished she could take pictures to saviour the sight a little longer. Instead, she clutched Gavin tighter as she felt him speed up. It didn't take them much longer to reach the warehouse, and Tessa felt that foreboding feeling increase.

The place looked like a criminal's hang out. The roof was rotting away, and the steel bars that held the building together were covered in rust. The window panes shining light into the warehouse were cracked and covered in moss. The paint that covered the outside was chipped in some places and missing in giant patches in other. Tessa rolled her shoulders to suppress her shiver. She followed Gavin's lead as he took out his gun and approached the warehouse. "Stay behind me." He said, and Tessa nodded. He took a deep breath and kicked the door open, gun out front, ready to fire.

Tessa followed in behind and scanned the room. It looked just as wrecked on the inside. There was trash and broken bits of glass scattered about. Graffiti covered the walls while dirt and dust covered the ground. But there was no sign of gang activity or anything else that suggested a criminal organisation had made this place their hang out. Tessa lowered her gun when Gavin shouted 'clear'. "Doesn't look like anyone has been here for months."

"Yeah," Gavin said, taking a look around. Tessa took a few steps forward, looking at the ground ahead of her. She spotted something big and black move in the corner of her eye and turned to look at it. She felt utter terror run down her spine at what she saw. It was a giant, black spider with hairy legs slowly making its way across the floor like it was stalking something. Tessa suddenly had no control of her vocal cords. She screamed and raised her gun, firing a single bullet at the spider. It hit it's target dead-on, and the spider exploded into a million pieces of guts and body parts. The sight didn't calm Tessa. She shuddered as she backed away from the now dead and exploded spider.

"Did you just shoot a spider?" Gavin asked. His voice startled her, and she jumped. He looked utterly shocked.

"YES!" She yelled, and Gavin raised his eyebrows, expression still shocked. "What? That thing is the devil's offspring. It didn't deserve the gift of breathing!" Tessa said, and Gavin blinked.

"Are you telling me your afraid of spiders?" He asked, and Tessa glared at him, daring him to laugh. Luckily, he didn't. To most people, her fear would seem petty, but they didn't understand. Spiders-No! Bugs and insects, in general, were a menace and much more scary then sharks and bears as far as Tessa was concerned. Sure, most of them looked innocence, but they were mass murders and didn't deserve the miracle of life. Yes, they helped maintain the balance of life, but Tessa was sure nature could go on without one massive, disgusting spider. It was probably venomous anyway.

Gavin didn't comment further and went back to checking out the warehouse. So did Tessa, though she kept an eye out for any more spiders. "There's nothing here." She said after a while, and Gavin hummed in agreement.

"It doesn't make sense." He uttered, and Tessa frowned at him. She went to ask him about it when she was suddenly tackled from behind by a massive force. She dropped her gun as she fell to the ground and held back her groan at the painful contact. "Tessa!" She heard Gavin yell before he was grunting. She didn't get a chance to look up because she was suddenly rolled onto her back and Tessa got an opportunity to take in her attacker. It was a large man dressed in a black suit with a pair of shades on. He raised his hand to punch her, but Tessa was quicker. She raised her knee, which was lying between his thighs, and kneed him in the balls.

He grunted and lowered his hand to grab his balls. Tessa used her hands to create momentum to roll backwards and managed to kick the guy in the face as she lifted her legs. She landed on her feet and stood up straighter, turning to see Gavin was taking on two guys with ease. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a woman run towards her, and she turned to face her. It threw the woman off, and she took the chance to punch her when she got close. It sent the woman stumbling back a few steps, clutching her jaw. Tessa took the opportunity to sweep the woman's legs out from under her, and she landed on her bottom with a groan. Tessa walked over and kicked her in the face, knocking her out. Tessa internally thanked Brooke for all those advance hand-to-hand combat sessions.

She then turned back to the large man and kicked her gun away before he could grab it. She grabbed his hand and forced it behind his back, twisting his wrist. He let out a sharp cry at the unnatural position. "Who are you?" She asked, but the man only laughed. She made to break his wrist when a gunshot rang throughout the warehouse. Tessa turned to see Gavin was crouched behind a tipped-over table as a man fired another shot at him. Suddenly a massive gust of wind rushed past Tessa, only sending her hair and clothes moving, and hit the man, sending him flying to the ground, the gun flying out of his hand. Gavin stood up and made eye contact with Tessa.

He jumped over the turned over table and ran over. "Are you okay?" He asked, worry evident in his eyes and voice. Tessa nodded.

"Yeah, I'm fine." She smiled at the man. "I told you I could take care of myself." Gavin offered her a smile small.

"Yeah. You did." He said, and Tessa was mesmerised by his shining golden eyes. But not enough that she didn't miss the man Gavin had just taken down get back up, gun in hand. He raised it, aiming for the back of Gavin's head.

"Look out!" She yelled, moving behind Gavin, so she was in the path of the bullet. The man fired, and Tessa wasted no time. She raised her hand and summoned a crystal-like barrier in front of her. The bullet hit it, shattering into a thousand pieces. The impact sent a wave of energy through the barrier but didn't harm it in any way. The man stood there surprised, and Tessa took the chance to send the barrier towards him. It hit him, pushing him up against the far wall, knocking the man out. Then it was gone as if it had never been there, the only evidence being the piece of bullet now lying on the ground in front of Tessa. She let out a relieved sigh then turned to Gavin and smiled at him. "Guess I was the one to protect you." She said, and Gavin blinked then smiled.

A sick chuckling suddenly filled the room, and Gavin turned to see the man Tessa had been tackled by. He was kneeling, his hand inside the jacket of his suit. "She may have protected you, but she won't be able to save 'them'. The Queen will return." With that, he pulled out what looked like a trigger and pressed the button. Gavin was faster, though. He spun and pulled Tessa to his chest, and suddenly they were airborne. Tessa instinctively clutched Gavin tight as they went through the roof. Then she heard the explosion and summoned a barrier box around them. The blast hit the box and sent them flying towards the ground. The barrier broke upon impact, and the force sent a slitting pain through Tessa's brain. Then everything went black.

~~~~~

Gavin slowly unwrapped his arms from around Tessa. He looked down to see she was unconscious, blood coming out of her ears and nose. But she was breathing. Gavin sighed and slowly sat up, ignoring the screaming his muscles were doing. He looked around them and watched as the remains of Tessa's barrier disappeared into sparkling dust. Then they were gone. He then turned his head and looked at the burning warehouse. If it weren't for Tessa, he'd probably be dead. He sighed and slowly stood up. He grabbed out his phone, sent a quick text to the chief then glanced down at Tessa.

She'd saved his life. She was an evolver and had saved him twice in the past 5 minutes. Gavin smiled and bent down, picking her up bride-style. Then he was airborne and heading towards the hospital. He knew just who to take her too. His mind couldn't help but go back to that man's final words. The Queen will return. The Queen...Who was she? Gavin had never heard of her before. He frowned down at Tessa, at the blood coming from her ears and nose. Whoever she was, she was going to pay...

 

Chapter Text

(Monday 20th, April)

Brooke stared up at the tall building before her. She was once again back at LFG. She sighed. She'd seen the inside of this building more in the past few days then all the other times she used to visit Loveland. Brooke adjusted her messenger bag and headed inside. She nodded at the receptionist before boarding the elevator and pressing the floor number the investment meeting was happening on. She was not looking forward to it. Brooke had been lectured on politics by her older sister and her mother before; after all, she was a Rosette, kind of came with the name. And those lectures had bored the crap out of her so she didn't think finance would be any more interesting.

The elevator reached the designated floor and Brooke got off, nodding to anybody she passed. Most didn't nod back. She quickly located the room and found Mr Heralds was already there, file open and talking to the bolding man Brooke had met last week. His name escaped her. Brooke knocked on the glass door, and Mr Heralds turned. He smiled and gestured she entered before going back to talking to the man. Brooke entered the room and took the seat next to Mr Heralds, who wrapped up his conversation before turning to her. "You look thrilled to be here."

Brooke groaned. "It's your fault." He said, and Brooke scoffed.

"I had somewhere to be. Besides, the only people I read for are children." She said, and Mr Heralds smiled.

"Still, the man is a potential investor. You couldn't have made an exception?" He asked, and Brooke smiled at her boss.

"If Victor decides not to invest because I wouldn't read to him, then he is a child." She said, and Mr Heralds raised his eyebrow.

"It's Victor now, huh?" He asked, and Brooke rolled her eyes, flushing slightly. Of course! She couldn't call him an arrogant capitalist tyrant out loud. At least, not somewhere he could potentially hear it. Mr Heralds laughed at her reaction and Brooke sighed, putting her hand on her cheek. She wanted the meeting to hurry up and start. Luckily, she didn't have to wait long. Victo showed up, that ever-present frown on his lips hard, and everyone in the room immediately stiffened. He made eye contact with Brooke, and she could have sworn she saw smugness in his eyes. But it was got in a flash, and he was making his way to the front of the room.

As Brooke had assumed, the meeting was incredibly dull. Everyone spoke in a professional tone and were all serious, never cracking a smile. Even Mr Heralds was serious as he presented his proposal. It put Brooke on edge, and she began to play with the silver charm bracelet around her wrist, which contained four charms; a book, a stethoscope, a police badge and an ice-skating boot. Mr Heralds soon sat down, and the discussion turned to something else. Brooke wasn't sure what, she'd stopped paying attention ages ago. Eventually, though, Victor requested a break and Brooke let out a sigh of relief, which got her a few stares but she ignored them.

She stood up and stretched, feeling that satisfying pop in her back. She lowered her arms and shook herself out before making her way over to the giant window that was considered a wall and looking out of it. She could see the side of Loveland it faced clearly and basket in the sunlight that poured in through the glass panes. She hadn't got the chance to enjoy the morning sun, having overslept and needing to rush to LFG. Her phone suddenly vibrated in her pocket, breaking the moment and Brooke took it out of her pocket. She'd gotten a text from Nyla.

Come to the hospital. Now! - N

Brooke frowned. Nyla only ever ordered Brooke to the hospital if she was due for a check-up, which she wasn't, or if someone she cared about had hurt themselves.

Who is it this time? - B

Tessa. She has been reckless again - N

Brooke sighed. Figured. She locked her phone and turned around, ignoring Victor's gaze, which was locked onto her. She wandered over to Mr Heralds. "I've got to go to the hospital." She said, and her boss frowned.

"Why?"

"Because Tessa is a reckless idiot." She said, and Mr Heralds smirked.

"And I wonder where she gets that from?" Brooke flushed slightly but didn't correct the man. "Well, don't let me keep you from her. Go scold the woman." Brooke smiled and made to leave the room when Mr Heralds spoke again. "Wait!" Brooke turned.

"What's up?"

"The date for the 'Most Influential Authors of the Year' awards has been set. It's a few months away." Brooke groaned. She'd forgotten about those rewards, although, she forgot about every award she's ever received. Brooke didn't care for them. She put on a fake smile and turned to her boss.

"Did I forget to tell you I'm not going?" She said, and Mr Heralds smiled at her, though it was filled with annoyance.

"Did I forgot to tell you it's compulsory and you have to go?" He said, and Brooke groaned again.

"But I don't want too!" She whined, and Mr Heralds sighed.

"Why not?! This is an amazing honour to have been nominated for and won! You should be over the moon." Brooke frowned. She didn't care for any of the awards she'd received. She wrote because it brought her joy, and she published her work because she needed some form of income. The fact that people really seemed to like her work was also a bonus. But the awards? She didn't want them or need them. But her dislike of award ceremonies wasn't the real reason she didn't want to go.

"You know why." She said, lowering her tone, so only Mr Heralds heard. Guilt flashed in her bosses' eyes, and he sighed, this time in defeat.

"Yeah." He said, and Brooke offered the man a small smile. She liked the whole scenario even less than him. A look of realisation passed through her bosses' eyes which soon turned a mischievous glint. It made Brooke nervous. "There will be cake." He said, smirking at her. Brooke stiffened then inwardly cursed.

"That's not fair." She said, lowering her head. She could practically hear Mr Hearlads smile. "What kind of cake?" She asked, flushing slightly and her boss laughed, knowing he already had her.

"Guess you'll have to go to find out." He said, sounding smug and Brooke sighed. Damn it. Mr Heralds knew she had a weakness for cake. She just couldn't resist the fluffy, sweet treat, regardless of favour.

"Fine." She said, and Mr Herald's smile turned massive.

"Great! Now you can go to the hospital." He said, and Brooke turned and went to walk out of the glass door sulking when a deep, gruff voice stopped her.

"Where are you going?" Victor asked, and Brooke inwardly sighed. She turned around and took in the CEO before her. He was standing pretty close, hands in his pocket, eyes locked onto her face, that ever-present frown slightly more profound than usual. She smiled at him.

"To the hospital. Someone I care about has hurt themselves." She said, not offering any more. It wasn't the man's business, anyway.

"Will you be returning?" He asked, and Brooke shook her head.

"No, probably not." He hardened those eyes. "The meeting is almost over, and I have other things to do." Like, kick Tessa's ass for making her worry. Victor's expression didn't change. "Look, I really should be going..." She trailed off, and Victor opened his mouth to say something but decided against it, looking away, face indifferent.

"Then go." With that, he turned and made way back to the head of the conference table. Brooke blinked. Had she upset him? She didn't understand what she'd done wrong but decided not to linger on the interaction. She had to go and scold Tessa with Nyla, after all.

~~~~~

Victor watched Brooke walk down the hall and out of his sight. He'd heard the entire conversation between Brooke and Mr Heralds, they hadn't exactly been quiet, and found it somewhat troubling. Particularly the part where Brooke said she wouldn't attend the award ceremony. Even though Mr Herald a got her to agree in the end, apparently there was a reason why Brooke hadn't wanted to go in the first place. One that was bigger then 'I don't like them.' Victor closed his eyes. He was utterly certain now.

Brooke was not just a writer. She had something else going on in her life, something no one, except Mr Heralds, knew about. Granted, it was none of Victor's business. He hardly knew the woman, and he was pretty sure she wasn't his biggest fan. But he couldn't help but be curious. The woman intrigued him. She just treated him differently from everyone else. She wasn't a kissass; she didn't care about his position or the power he held. Victor sighed and rubbed his eyes. No one had ever confused him so much.

~~~~~

It didn't take long for Brooke to reached the hospital. LFG wasn't that far from it. Guess having the building in the middle of the city had its perks. She entered the building and quickly found out the location of Tessa's room number. She swiftly made her way to the room, having no trouble at all finding it since she had the entire hospital layout memorised. Why? It had been a pathetic drunken dare by Nyla that Brooke had utterly rocked. She could probably rob the place with how thorough her research had been.

She was walking towards Tessa's room when she spotted Nyla's familiar head of white hair leaning in the doorway. She was having a conversation with Tessa. "It's your own fault. You didn't wait."

"Gavin wouldn't let me!" Tessa's voice whined. Nyla scoffed.

"You couldn't have gone."

"And leave my partner to fend for himself? No way."

"Aw, that's sweet," Brooke said, coming up behind Nyla to join her in the doorway. "She cares for him. We should start planning for the wedding." Nyla smiled at Brooke and Tessa groaned, putting her face in her hands, one of them having an IV line connected to it.

"You called Brooke?" Nyla nodded with pride. Tessa then processed the rest of Brooke's sentence and flushed. "And there is no wedding! I don't like him like that!"

"Denial is the clincher, Tess." Brooke teased.

"Stop it!" Brooke and Nyla laughed at Tessa's reaction, and she pouted. "I hate you both."

"Aw, Tess. We're just teasing you." Brooke said, wandering in and over to Tessa, who was sulking and looking out the window. "It's sort of our job as your big sisters."

"Adoptive big sisters," Tessa muttered, and Brooke rolled her eyes, ignoring the remark. Nyla didn't, however, coming to join Brooke in the room.

"Still your sisters though and as your sisters, we have to scold you for being reckless." She said, and Brooke nodded.

"Yes, so tell me what happened?" Tessa glanced at Brooke and Nyla before sighing and telling the story of how she'd ended up unconscious in Nyla's ER. "And that's the last thing you remember?" Brooke asked, and Tessa nodded.

"I woke up in this room just a few minutes ago." Brooke nodded, understanding.

"Gavin sings the same story," Nyla said, her hands in her lab coat, looking relaxed and calm like always. Brooke frowned.

"Gavin?"

"Her partner," Nyla said at the same time Tessa said "My partner." Brooke blinked then nodded, remembering.

"Oh yeah. Is he okay?" She asked.

"Yeah, he's fine. His in the room next store, though his brooding." Nyla said, smiling. Brooke raised her eyebrow.

"He can't leave until Nyla says so." Tessa clarified, and Brooke nodded in understanding. She felt his pain.

"You should bring him in. I want to meet him." Nyla nodded and turned on her heel, exiting the door.

"You're not going to interrogate him, are you?" Tessa asked, and Brooke shook her head, sitting down on the edge of Tessa's bed.

"Of course not. I trust your judgement of character. I just want to hear his side of the story." Tessa nodded, and Brooke smiled down at her younger sister. "How are you doing by the way? Any backfire?" She asked, and Tessa shook her head.

"Other then the concussion, I'm fine."

"That's good." A male voice said, and Brooke turned to see a young man with brown hair and golden eyes, who she assumed was Gavin, smiling at Tessa, entering the room with Nyla trailing behind. Even though he'd been given his own room, Nyla seemed to allow him to keep his clothes on instead of changing into the hospital gowns. Tessa hadn't been so lucky. Tessa smiled.

"I'm glad to see you're alright too." She said, and Gavin nodded. He then locked his eyes on Brooke, face becoming indifferent. "Oh, This is my older sister, Brooke." Brooke held out her hand, smiling.

"Hey!" Gavin frowned, grabbing her hand.

"Hello." He then turned to Tessa. "I didn't know you had a sister."

"Sisters." Nyla corrected, giving a wave. "And biologically speaking, she doesn't. We are her adoptive big sisters." Nyla clarified.

"Yep, we all grew up in the same orphanage," Brooke said and a look of surprise and sadness past through Gavin's eyes but it was gone in a flash. "There's one more of us, Aria. She's the youngest." Gavin nodded.

"Now, with that clarified, I'll talk treatment," Nyla said, coming to stand in front of Gavin. "Since your doing so well, being up and aware, I suppose it's okay if I send you home." Gavin nodded, grateful.

"Thanks."

"But, you have to take these tablets," Nyla said, pulling out a box of pills with a note attached to it. "And if you experience any of the symptoms listed on the note, you have to come back." She concluded, handing Gavin the box. He took it, giving it a once over before pocketing it.

"What about Tessa?" He asked, and Nyla smiled brightly.

"She stays."

"What!? But I'm fine!" Tessa whined, and Nyla sent her 'doctor glare' towards her, shutting her up. Brooke covered her mouth with her hand to suppress her laugh.

"She stays the night. If everything is all good tomorrow, she can go home and back to work." Gavin nodded.

"Alright, I let the chief know. Thank you, doctor." Nyla nodded in return to Gavin's appreciation before turning and grabbing Tessa's chart from its holder, pulling it out and filling out sections, pretending to be working. Brooke got out her phone and began scrolling through her messages, pretending to read them. She still eavesdropped in on Gavin and Tessa's conversation. "I'll pick you up when you get released tomorrow."

"Okay, thanks, Gavin."

"Be sure to text me tonight. Let me know you're okay." Brooke saw Tessa nod out of the corner of her eye. Satisfied, Gavin left the room, most likely going back to his own to gather his things. Brooke peeked up to check he was truly gone before putting away her phone.

"He's so caring." She said, leaning back on her hands and smiling at Tessa, whose face was started flushing.

"And handsome too," Nyla added, causing Tessa's face to flush deeper.

"Definitely a keeper," Brooke concluded, and Tessa's face was now deep red.

"STOP IT!" She yelled, and laughter rang throughout her hospital room in response...

 

Chapter Text

(Monday 20th, April)

"So Nyla won't let you leave?" Aria asked the pouting Tessa through her computer screen. Tessa nodded, and Aria laughed. "Sounds like her."

"I'm right here, Ari." Nyla's voice came through the computer, and suddenly her head was taking up the screen.

"Hey, Nyla!" Aria chirped. Nyla smiled and waved before leaning back and out the frame, going back to whatever she was doing. Tessa sent her a glare.

"Mrs Worry-Wart is spending all her free time in here like I'll die if she left me alone." Nyla's laughed came through the speakers.

"It's my job as your doctor and sister to care for you or would you prefer I called Gavin and asked him to give you a 'physical examination'? Nyla's implied innuendo didn't go unnoticed by Tessa, and her face went as red as a tomato."

"Hell no!" Aria laughed at Tessa's reaction. Nyla had always liked teasing them when they were younger, and it had just gotten worse the older they got. Though, Tessa got teased the hardest. She was just too easy to rile up. Aria grinned widely as Tessa started muttering something about overbearing sisters under her breath. It was nice to talk to her adoptive sisters again. She'd been so busy with work lately that the most she got were phone calls or a check-up in Nyla's case.

"I'm glad to see you're okay though, Tess," Aria said, interrupting the woman. "And I'm sorry I can't be there to see you in person." Aria continued, pouting. She'd gotten a text from Nyla about Tessa being in the hospital and wanted to go and see her, but she had a session with Kiro soon then figure skating practice so she couldn't leave. Tessa smiled at her.

"It's okay Ari. I'm fine, really. It's just a concussion. God knows I've had worse." Aria smiled slightly. That was true. "I'll be all good tomorrow. How about I come to see you at practice?" Tessa suggested, and Aria brightened up.

"Yeah!?" Tessa laughed.

"Of course! I'll always make time for you, Aria and I want to see your new routine." Aria smiled brightly at Tessa through the screen and nodded. "Great. I'm just doing paperwork tomorrow anyway so I'll come by at lunch, alright?"

"Okie Dokie!" Aria said. A knock occurred on her apartment door, signify it was almost time to go. "My agent is summoning me, so I have to go, but I'll see you tomorrow, Tessa" Aria said, waving. Tessa waved back.

"And you'll see me on Sunday for your weekly check-up," Nyla added from the background. Tessa rolled her eyes while Aria grinned.

"You got it, Nyla! See you." She waved one last time before pressing the end call button. Her computer screen went black, and she sighed. While she loved skating and was enjoying her dabble into singing, she did miss all her free time. Time she used to spend hanging out with her sisters. Aria shook her head. No point dwelling on things that can't be changed. With that, she put away her laptop and made her over to the door, opening it to find Bella standing there, looking at her watch.

"We have 10 minutes to get over to B.S Entertainment, meaning we're going to have to go fast." Aria blinked. That meant the van wouldn't be smoothing out the bumps like it was designed to do. Aria smiled, turned and started walking away from Bella.

"Looks like you'll have to cancel the rest of my day then." She felt a hand grab her collar and drag her back to the door.

"Oh no, missy. You're getting into that van." Aria turned to see Kenny had a firm grip, but she struggled anyway.

"But I don't want to, and you can't make me!" Aria said, and Bella scoffed.

"Oh, yes, I can." Her agent said. With that permission, Aria felt Kenny pick her up and throw her over his shoulder. Once she was secure, he started walking. Aria fought him the entire way down the stairs, but it was no use. The man was too strong. They exited out the back of the building like always, and Aria heard the side door of the van open, and suddenly she was sitting down, Kenny securing her seatbelt.

"You can't do this! This is kidnapping!" She yelled resisting, but it was no use. She was stuck. She continued anyway. Then the van's engine purred to life and Aria was defeated. A wave of nausea passed through her stomach, and Aria felt all her fight leave her as her motion sickness took control of her.

"We can leave now, Ben," Bella said, getting in next to her and offering Aria no comfort. The van started moving, and Aria rested her head against the window. "If you're going to throw up, do it in one of the vomit bags," Bella said, reading over documents. Aria only groaned in response. The next 10 minutes were hell. Aria's arms remained wrapped around her stomach the entire time, trying to be a source of comfort to the disaster that was her stomach. The van would go over a hole in the road and Aria would have to will her stomach's contents not to come up.

Eventually, the van pulled up in front of B.S Entertainment, and Aria felt someone put her hoodie over her head. Her seatbelt was undone then someone was guiding her out of the van and into the building. As soon as the glass-doors closed, Aria took in a deep breath, looked up and saw Kiro waving at her from the stairs with a smile on his face. Then she was heading towards the nearest trash can and emptying her stomach. "Oh my god, are you okay?" She heard Kiro ask before his hands were on her back and rubbing, soothing her.

"She's fine. It's just motion sickness." Bella said, sounding annoyed. Once Aria finished vomiting, a handkerchief appeared before her. She used it to wipe her mouth before she was looking up and glaring at Bella.

"You're a demon. How could you let me suffer like that?" Aria whined, and Bella rolled her eyes.

"Would you rather walk?" Bella asked.

"YES!" Aria yelled, and Bella huffed but didn't say anything else. Aria turned to Kiro to see he was looking at her with worried eyes. "At least you care about me, Kiro." She said, and Kiro smiled at her.

"I care about you!" She heard Bella yell, but they ignored her.

"Of course! What kind of superhero would I be if I didn't try to rescue you from your own stomach?" Aria grinned at him. "Of course, I failed this time, but I'll succeed next time now that I know you suffer from motion sickness." Aria laughed at his determined pose and couldn't help but hug him. It was only a quick hug, and she let him go before he could react. He looked surprised and slightly flushed.

"A thank you gift!" She said, and Kiro blinked before smiling at her. "Now, let's go write a kickass album."

~~~~~

"This is a sucky kickass album," Aria whined before banging her head on the table. Kiro hummed, sounding just as put out. "I mean, how can writing one song be so hard?"

"Maybe you're just not compatible." Bella offered, and Aria sat up, gaping at her.

"How dare you say that?!" Bella held up her hands in surrender at Aria's glare.

"Maybe we just don't have enough experiences with each other?" Aria turned and looked at Kiro. "I mean, songs come from personal experience, and we haven't done anything awesome together yet." Kiro glanced at Savin. "Other than that quiz, of course." He added on, and Aria hummed.

"You're right. We need to do something that'll spark our creative juices." Aria said, and Kiro nodded. Aria thought over a few ideas before the perfect one hit her. "You can come and watch me skate!" Aria said, and Kiro blinked at her.

"Really?" He asked, and Aria nodded.

"Yeah. I'm scheduled for a session with my trainer this afternoon. You can come along and watch, and I'll go along to your next movie shoot." Aria explained. "That way, we're doing things we enjoy and getting to know each other at the same time as well as finding inspiration. ITS THE PERFECT PLAN!!" Aria yelled before putting her hands over her mouth at everyone's flinches. That had been a bit too loud. Kiro recovered first and smiled at her.

"Sounds perfect!"

A little while later, Kiro followed Aria back into her van and sat next to her, rubbing her back as a form of comfort as she succumbed to her stomach once again. "Can she not take medication?" Aria heard him ask Bella.

"No, her metabolism doesn't allow her too. It wouldn't do anything." Kiro hummed before his rubbing increased. Aria was grateful for him at that moment, being able to focus on something else rather than the mess that was her stomach. The van drove to the local indoor skating rink that had been booked out for Aria's rehearsal. It pulled up, and Aria was directed into the changing rooms by Bella as Kiro went to take a seat in the stands to watch. She took the chance to get her motion sickness under control and once she was feeling better, changed into her practice attire, which consisted of pale yellow leggings and t-shirt.

She had just sat down on her seat, putting her figure skates on when Bella spoke up. "I do care for you." She said, and Aria blinked, looking up to see a downcast look on Bella's face. "I know it doesn't always seem like it, but I do." Aria smiled at her agent.

"I know that." Bella looked up. "And I care for you too so wipe that frown off your face." Bella smiled as Aria stood up and walked over to her agents. With her figure skates on, she was now slightly taller. She hugged her agent tightly. "I appreciate everything you do for me," She whispered in her ear. "And I know it isn't always easy dealing with my problems but I'm glad you've stuck around." She continued before pulling back. Bella was smiling at her.

"Well, I don't think anybody else can handle you." Aria laughed. "Now go show off to Kiro." Aria nodded and made her way out of the change rooms onto the ringing. She glided across it with ease and waved at Kiro when she spotted him at the edge, leaning against the bar. She skated over.

"Hello, Miss Chips."

"Hello, Super Kiro."

"God, you make it look so easy." He said, and Aria grinned.

"Well, I have been doing this since I was 4, but it's always come naturally to me." She said, pushing off the side and starting her warm-up. She felt Kiro watch her, eyes never leaving her.

"I know. The internet says you've even been to the Olympics." He said, sounding impressed. Aria glided past him, grinning.

"Yep. Once when I was 16 and when I was 20. Won the gold medal both times." Aria flushed. "Not that I'm showing off or anything." She said, and Kiro shook his head.

"No, I think that's amazing." Kiro sighed, putting his chin on his hand. "Wish I could have been there to see those performances." He muttered, and Aria smiled at him.

"Perhaps I could perform them for you?" Aria suggested, and Kiro's eyes lit up.

"Really?" Aria nodded and went to confirm when a British voice rang out.

"Why? They're online if you wish to watch them." Aria turned to see her long time coach, Mr Fain, skate out onto the ring. The aging, thin and wrinkled man looked as serious as always. "You should do that then take up Aria's precious time." He said, skating over to Kiro and crossing his arms. Aria saw Kiro smile nervously.

"It's okay, Fain. I don't mind showing him them." Aria said, skating over. Mr Fain never took his eyes off Kiro.

"Well, I do. What's this boy even doing here? This is supposed to be a private rehearsal."

"I invited him," Aria said, and Mr Fain raised his eyebrow at her. Kiro perked up slightly.

"Yeah, Aria and I are doing an album together, and we felt that it would be good to check out each others hobbies. I go to one of her rehearsals, and she comes to visit me on my movie set." Kiro said, smiling brightly. Mr Fain scoffed, and the smile faded.

"And you couldn't just watch each other online?" He said, and Kiro shrank into himself a little at the man's scrutinising gaze. Aria sighed.

"Please, Fain. Let him watch. It would mean a lot to me." She pleaded, and Mr Fain glanced at her before sighing.

"Alright, as long as he doesn't take away your focus." Aria smiled brightly at him as Mr Fain took one last glance at Kiro before raising his nose and skating off to the middle of the ring.

"Wow, I don't he likes me very much," Kiro said, sounding dejected. Aria smiled at him.

"Mr Fain doesn't like anyone very much." She said, and Kiro smiled at her.

"ARIA!" Mr Fain's voice echoed throughout the room and Aria flinched.

"Better go. Hope you enjoy the show." She said, waving before going to join Mr Fain in the middle of the ring. He shot her a look, causing her to flush, but didn't say anything else about Kiro. Instead, his talk turned to skating and working on her routine. Aria listened intently, briefly forgetting about the rest of the world.

~~~~~

Kiro took a seat and watched as Aria carried out her routine. He was absolutely mesmerised by her. She was so graceful and quick, carrying out complicated spins and jumps like it was nothing. Her gliding matched with the soothing background music, and she looked at peace, gliding across the fake ice. He hadn't watched any of her skating videos because he didn't want to spoil the real thing for himself, and now he was glad he hadn't.

At one point, Aria made eye contact with him and waved before going into a jump. She'd landed gracefully and looked angelic in the light, eyes closed and hands moving to the music. Kiro felt a wave of inspiration hit him, and he grabbed out his notebook, starting to write down words describing Aria's beauty. Suddenly he had a verse and chorus about her and only her. Kiro looked up and saw Aria was wiping down her face, a radiant smile on her lips and knew he was utterly screwed...

 

Chapter Text

(Tuesday 21st, April)

"Morning Tessa," Nyla said, walking into Tessa's room to find the younger woman awake and on her phone. Tessa looked up upon her entrance and smiled.

"Hey, Nyl-you're wearing the same clothes from yesterday. Did you not go home?" She asked, frowning and Nyla smiled, coming up to her while taking off her stethoscope.

"I was on call so no, I didn't." Tessa frowned deepened, and Nyla rolled her eyes. "I'm a doctor, Tessa. My shift doesn't end at 5:00 like yours." She said. "Now, take a deep breath." Tessa did as she was asked, and Nyla listened to the woman's heartbeat. When she was satisfied it sounded fine, she lifted her stethoscope and put it back around her neck before making her way to the end of Tessa's bed and grabbing her chart. "How'd you sleep?"

"Surprisingly well, considering," Tessa said, and Nyla smiled.

"That just goes to show you've spent too much time in a hospital bed." She said, and Tessa rolled her eyes but didn't counter the woman. Nyla started filling out Tessa's chart, glancing at her watch every now and then.

"Will you let me go home today?" Tessa asked, and Nyla looked up, smiling at the woman.

"Yes." Tessa expression brightened up. "But I have a few questions you need to answer first." Tessa's expression fell, and Nyla came to sit on her bed. "First, how's your head?"

"Good."

"No blurry vision, sharp pain?" Tessa shook her head, and Nyla nodded. "How about your evol?" She asked, and Tessa smiled. She opened up her hand and a small, crystal platform formed above her palm. It was gone a few seconds later.

"All good," Tessa said, and Nyla nodded again, smiling. Then she dropped it.

"I'm glad. I have one more question." Tessa blinked, waiting. "About those policemen I asked you to investigate." Tessa's face fell, and Nyla knew the news wasn't going to be what she hoped.

"Yeah, I looked into that, and they don't work for the force. At least, not the Loveland City one." Nyla nodded. As she'd feared. "I'm not sure who they are, I couldn't dig up anything else since they don't actually exist in our files but if you see them again, call me, and I'll have them arrested. It's illegal to impersonate an officer." Nyla nodded again and smiled at Tessa.

"Thanks for doing that. I'm sorry to have bothered you with it." Tessa shook her head.

"Don't say that. If something like that happens, I want to know about it." Tessa looked around before leaning in close to Nyla. "There is something going on in the background of Loveland. It's discreet and remaining well hidden, but it's definitely there."

"If you think it's 'them', you should call it in," Nyla whispered back, and Tessa nodded.

"I was considering it, but I need more evidence before I do that or I'll never hear the end of it." Nyla nodded, and Tessa leaned back. "Anyway, I've got a little sister to go visit so can you release me now?" Nyla rolled her eyes but stood up.

"Okay." She said, and Tessa smiled. "Just call Gavin and have him come pick you up, I'm sure he's dying to see you." Tessa's face turned red. "You did text him last night like you promised, right?" Nyla asked, and Tessa's eyebrow twitched.

"SHUT UP!" Nyla's laughter rang throughout Tessa's room.

~~~~~

Nyla entered the elevator and pressed the Burn ICU level after watching Tessa drive off into the distance, hands wrapped tightly around Gavin's waist. Nyla took out her phone and sent Brooke the photo she'd taken of Tessa and Gavin.

The crush becomes deeper - N

Brooke responded a few seconds later.

I've got the wedding planner on speed dial - B

Nyla laughed before putting her phone away as the elevator reached the Burn floor. She got off and made her way over to a room that had become familiar over the past couple of days. She nodded to every nurse and doctor she passed before stopping at Max Sky's door. She grabbed a pair of gloves before entering his room. Unlike all the other days, Max was staring out the window instead of reading the books he'd requested. "Good morning, Max," Nyla said, and the man jumped. He turned and looked at Nyla, offering her a small smile.

"Hello, Dr Correa." He said, sounding tired. Nyla noticed the dark bags under his eyes.

"Did you not sleep well?" She asked, and the man shook his head.

"No, I slept fine." She stopped at the end of his bed and frowned. Max chuckled. "Guess, I'm not having a good morning is all." Nyla smiled kindly at the man.

"It has only been a week, and, as we discussed, the recovery process is going to be slow. You're going to have bad days." Max nodded but didn't smile at her in return. Nyla sighed inwardly. She saw this a lot with people who didn't have a constant support system. They began to lose their hope. From what Nyla had heard, Lucien hadn't been back to visit the man, and his wife was currently overseas, unaware of what had happened to her husband. Nyla had tried to convince the man to call her, but he'd ignored her, saying it didn't matter. And, while Nyla did visit the man when she could, she couldn't provide the constant support the man needed.

Nyla continued with her check-up, Max staying quiet the whole time. She promised the man she'd be back to see him and he only hummed in response as she left. Nyla gently closed the door behind her before making her way over to the nurses' desk. "Jimmy?" She asked, and the dark-skinned nurse looked up. "Get psych down here to do a consult on Max Sky. He's getting a little depressed." Jimmy nodded and picked up the phone. At that moment, Nyla's phone went off, and she took it out of her pocket, not glancing at the ID. "This is Dr Correa?"

"I thought we agreed you wouldn't greet me so formally?" Lucien's smooth voice came through the other end, and Nyla blinked before taking her phone away from her ear to check the ID. Sure enough, it said Lucien. Nyla flushed slightly, putting the phone back against her ear.

"Sorry. I didn't look at the caller ID."

"Busy?" Lucien inquired, and Nyla sighed, looking at Max's door.

"Yeah." She wanted to ask the scientist why he hadn't been visiting. Ask him why was he letting Max be consumed by his sorrow and pain? He hadn't mentioned anything during their lunch on Saturday, so did he not find it necessary to tell her? Instead, Nyla closed her eyes and walked away from Max's room. Lucien might have been busy with work since the research lab had officially reopened on Monday. That's what Nyla chose to believe, anyway.

"You sound tired. Have you not been sleeping well?" Lucien asked, and Nyla chuckled.

"I'm a doctor, Lucien. I thrive off little sleep." Which was true. As a resident, she'd become a master at taking small naps in the on-call rooms whenever she could. Now, she could fall asleep anywhere and almost instantly.

"Even so, it's essential to get a decent night of sleep every once in a while. If you're having trouble falling asleep, I can provide several scientific approved methods of helping with that." Nyla smiled at the genuine concern she heard in his voice.

"Thank you, but generally, my problem isn't falling asleep but waking up." She heard Lucien chuckle.

"I have several scientific methods to help with that as well." Nyla smiled brighten as she boarded the elevator. "If you come over to the research centre, I can show you in person." He offered, and Nyla felt a flush creep up onto her cheeks.

"Is that why you're calling? To invite me over to your lab?" She could practically hear Lucien's teasing smile in his response.

"Yes, after all, if I recall correctly, you're just about to go on your hour-long lunch break. And someone will be covering the ER for you during that time." He sounded like he'd thought over his response well like he assumed she'd say she couldn't as she was busy. Nyla flush increased.

"Well, then. I guess that means I'm free to come over." She said, hearing the elevator stop on the bottom floor. She made her way over to the attending's locker room.

"Great. I'll order some fish 'n' chips for lunch. I can't wait to see you." With that Lucien ended the call and Nyla was grateful she was along in the locker room because she looked in the mirror and saw her hair turning a light shade of pink as a deep flush overtook her cheeks. She didn't understand why it was only Lucien who had her feel like this?

~~~~~

Nyla got out of the taxi and thanked the driver, giving them a high tip as they'd had a pleasant conversation about the best food court stores on the way over to Lucien's lab, before stepping back and watching them drive off to help the next stranded person. Nyla turned on her heel once the car was out of sight and began making her way toward the lab's entrance, feeling a wave of nerves settle in her stomach. She hadn't actually seen or been to the lab before, making it a new location. And Nyla had a terrible sense of direction.

Luckily, she didn't have to actually go into the lab and risk getting lost as a familiar, handsome scientist came out of the sliding glass doors, carrying a plastic bag in his hands, a warm smile coming onto his lips when he spotted Nyla. She waved at Lucien as he made his way over and he did a small wave bag. "I'm glad you came." He greeted, and Nyla raised her eyebrow, tilting her head.

"Why? Did you think I wouldn't come?" A teasing gleam entered Lucien's eyes as he raised his free hand to his chin and hummed. Nyla huffed at his response, which simply earned her a warm smile from the teasing scientist. She smiled in response.

"So, why am I here? It can't just be because of my sleeping habits." Lucien looked down at Nyla, that teasing gleam in his eyes never fading.

"Must I have a reason to enjoy a nice lunch with you?" He asked, and Nyla felt an all too familiar flush creep back into her cheeks. She broke eye contact with him, deciding the ground looked much more interesting.

"Well, no..." She muttered and heard Lucien chuckle.

"Your cute when you're flushed." He commented, only making Nyla flushed harder. She really hoped her hair didn't change as her embarrassment increased. She managed to look at Lucien to see he was still smiling down at her, expression unchanged. Nyla took that as a sign, her hair hadn't changed and willed her embarrassment away. Lucien seemed to notice her discomfort because the teasing glint in his eye when away. "Okay, I'll stop now." Nyla nodded and took a little while longer to form a response.

"So, lunch was the only reason you invited me here?" She asked, and Lucien shook his head.

"No. I want to show you an experiment." He said, and Nyla blinked. He offered her the bag of chips. "Stay here, enjoy your lunch and watch my office window." Nyla blinked at him. Which floor was that? "It's the top floor." He said, and Nyla nodded. She watched Lucien turn on his heel and disappear back into the building. Nyla looked around and found a garden wall to sit down on. She opened the plastic bag and took out the wrapped up fish 'n' chips, noticing it was the only package. Did Lucien not get any for himself?

Her phone rang a moment later and she picked it up, noticing it was Lucien. "Are you looking?" He asked.

"Yes"

"Keep looking this way and keep a gaze on the sky." Nyla nodded, even though Lucien couldn't see her. A touch of rose-red suddenly appeared, shining brightly. The light then spread far and wide before fading. "Did you see it?" He asked, and Nyla could only blink in shock. What was that?

"Yes. It was beautiful! What was it?" She asked.

"An interesting experiment. It finally worked out today."

"How did you managed to do that?" She asked, and Lucien went off into an explanation about space folding. It sounded fascinating, and Nyla couldn't help but listen whole-heartily. The bright red light remained her of Tessa's evol and those times when sunlight would reflect off the crystal-like barriers, creating an explosion colour that would flow in all directions. Nyla closed her eyes and allowed herself to get absorbed in the beautiful memory.

"And just what are you thinking about?" Lucien's voice asked, cutting into her memory. She opened her eyes and saw Lucien was standing right in front of her, smiling with the phone still to his ear. She smiled at him.

"Sorry but your experiment remained me of something beautiful I have the pleasure of witnessing sometimes." She said, and Lucien looked at her curiously. He put the phone away and took a seat next to her.

"And what is that, exactly?" He asked, and Nyla smiled at him.

"The sight of sunlight reflecting off a crystal." She said, and a thoughtful looked passed over Lucien's face.

"I've never seen that before." He said, and Nyla blinked at him. She found that hard to believe but didn't question the man about it.

"Well, I find it a beautiful sight." She said, opening her bag of fish 'n' chips and grabbing a chip. "Perhaps I'll show you sometime." She said, and Lucien nodded. While the results might be a bit dimmer with a real crystal, it'll still create the same effect as Tessa's barriers.

"I would enjoy that." He aid and Nyla smiled at him. "Though, perhaps you can describe it to me?" Nyla blinked at him, and he smiled. "I'm not patient enough to wait for such a beautiful sight." Nyla smiled and offered the scientist a chip as she delved into explaining the sight without giving too much away, enjoying this peaceful moment with Lucien.

~~~~~

Lucien watched Nyla go off on a tangent, explaining all about colours and how they'd looked shining off the crystal, hands gesturing as she did her best to explain. Lucien had preformed experiments similar to what Nyla was describing plenty of times, and they're all showed the same results. Just rays of dull shades. But at that moment, as he watched this woman do her best at describing the entire colour spectrum for him, he could just imagine the results.

Not by her description but because of the woman herself. She was full of colour, and he pictured that colour flowing from a crystal and the image in his mind was a beautiful sight. Of course, it was probably nothing compared to the real thing, but he didn't care as this woman in front of him had helped him imagine it. She smiled brightly at him, and Lucien smiled in return. Of course, nothing in his imagination could ever compare to her colour...

Chapter Text

(Sunday 26th, April)

"Thank you!" Milo's crying voice said through the phone and Brooke smiled. "Thank you for handing it in!" He sobbed.

"Not a problem and I'm sorry it took so long." She said

"All is forgiven. I'm just glad you handed it in!" He continued to sob, and Brooke heard him grab a tissue and blow into it before using a new one to wipe his eyes.

"Yeah, well I feel awful about making you wait, and I'll try and be more punctual next time," Brooke said, winking at Haya who simply tilted her head, not understanding. Milo continued to sob his thanks into the phone until Brooke eventually just hang up on the guy. It's the only way to break him out of his crying fits anyway. She put her phone away and reached forward, giving Haya a stoke. The kitten purred into it. "What should I do today, Haya?" She asked. The kitten simply continued to purr before one of her toys on the ground caught her eye, and she was off the bed in a flash, attacking the toy mouse with all her might.

Brooke rolled her eyes but got up off the bed and made her way over to her calendar. She'd handed in her manuscript and wouldn't get it back until at least Wednesday, and she wasn't required to go LPH until she got her manuscript back. Tessa was currently home-locked, Nyla was on call and Aria was busy as always meaning she couldn't call any of them. Brooke sighed. She needed to find a way to kill the few hours before her training session. Brooke glanced at the clock. 11am. She then looked out the window and saw the buildings of Loveland, standing tall and proud like always. Then it hit her.

She could continue to explore the city, get a better sense of its layout than she already had. It would surely make any midnight roof strolls easier. Brooke quickly set up Haya's lunch and made sure the kitten had been given a lot of affection before bidding her goodbye. Once she was outside her apartment building, she took out her phone and pulled up the GPS. She knew where all the main roads lead but still needed to familiarise herself with the back streets and allies that were scatted throughout the city. With her path set, Brooke put away her phone and began her stroll throughout the city.

She passed all kinds of different shops and restaurants, taking in their exteriors and interiors if the windows were clear. She was a far way away from her apartment when she decided to take a break and grab some lunch. Looking at all the shops around her, Brooke eventually decided on some cheap takeaway and started making her way towards the stand when someone crashed into her. The force sent her tumbling back, and towards the ground, however, she recovered from the impact quickly and put her hands on the ground, doing a graceful back walkover and landing on her feet. Brooke immediately focused her attention on the person who had bumped into her.

It was an aging man with styled ash brown hair and glasses that had strings hanging from the lenses. He looked startled, sitting on the ground, the paper brown bag he'd been carrying, and it's contents laid out around him. He didn't look like any kind of threat at all. Brooke relaxed her posture and darted over to the man. "Are you okay?" She asked, bending down next to him. The man shook his head and smiled at her.

"Yes. I'm sorry. It would appear I wasn't watching where I was going." Brooke held out her hand and helped the man stand up. "Thank you, and I'm sorry for bumping into you." Brooke shook her head and bent back down, gathering his groceries.

"Don't be. Accidents happen after all." She said, standing back up and handing the man his groceries when she'd collected them all.

"You didn't need to do that." Brooke smiled and shook her head.

"I wanted to." The man smiled at her when a thoughtful look came over his face, and he adjusted his glasses.

"Maybe..." He muttered, and Brooke blinked at the man, confused. He smiled at her. "Allow me to repay you for your kindness." Brooke shook her head and waved her hands.

"Oh, that's not necessary. I was simply doing what I felt was right. I don't need to be rewarded for it." The man didn't back down, though.

"Surely, there must be something I can do." He looked around. "How about I treat you to lunch? You must be hungry." Brooke wanted to huff. He didn't sound like he was going to let her go any time soon so she may as well indulge the guy.

"...Alright but I'm not letting you pay for it." The man smiled, ignoring her statement, most likely just happy he got her to agree.

"Wonderful. If you will, please follow me." He said, continuing in the path he was initially going. "I'm Mills by the way." He said, turning to her.

"I'm Brooke." She said, smiling at him. The man nodded, and he led her to an expensive-looking restaurant with a sign reading 'Souvenir' hanging from it. Brooke stopped at the stairs leading up to the doorway. "This place looks expensive, I'm not sure I can afford it." She could actually afford it, but she wasn't the biggest fan of fine-dining and generally avoided it if she could. Mr Mills simply smiled at her.

"Oh, don't worry about that, dear." He said before making his way inside. Brooke quickly followed in after him.

"I told you that I'm paying for lunch." She said, watching as Mr Mills started making his way to the kitchen, "Wait? Do you work here?" She asked, and Mr Mills nodded his head.

"Yes and I must go quickly check with the boss to see if he'll let you dine here." He said before disappearing into the back. Brooke blinked. Let her dine here? Sounded like the restaurant owner had a bias against people. She would guess poor people judging by the simple yet elegant interior. Brooke took in the room and discovered there was no one actually dining in the place. It was completely empty. All the tables had the chair flipped upwards and only had a white sheet covering the surface. Brooke turned back to the kitchen entrance to see Mr Mills walking out, lacking groceries this time. "He says you can dine here."

"Listen, Mr Mills, this place is lovely, but I'm not entirely sure if I should..." She trailed off at Mr Mills confused look. "Well, it's like I said before. I just can't afford it." She ended up saying instead of 'This place creeps me out and your boss sounds like a dick'. Mr Mills smiled at her.

"Don't worry. He doesn't want you to pay in cash." Brooke blinked and watched as Mr Mills wandered over to a lovely looking table by the window. "Now, sit down and wait for lunch to be served." He said, taking down at a chair. Brooke blinked at him then shrugged. If having lunch in this place meant that the unnecessary debt Mr Mills felt will be paid then she'll have lunch here.

"So is there no menu?" Brooke asked, noticing the lack of a physical menu to look through. Mr Mills nodded.

"Yes. Lunch will be whatever the boss served." Brooke nodded.

"Well, as long as he doesn't serve pasta with cream and chicken, I think I'll be fine." She said, and Mr Mills smiled at her with amusement.

"Don't like it?" He asked, and Brooke nodded her head, suppressing her cringe as the familiar and horrible taste manifest itself on her taste bud from memory. "Well, I'll let him know. Don't want you leaving now do we?" He said before turning and making his way back to the kitchen. Brooke watched him disappear before turning and looking out the window she was sitting next too. It was a beautiful day, and she couldn't help but wonder what Haya was doing. She'll go home and check on the kitten once lunch was over.

Mr Mills came back out and gave her a set of cutlery and a few napkins. Brooke thanked him before turning back to look out the window. The tree across the street caught her eye, and she took out the pencil and paper she carried around with her and began drawing. It killed the time she had to wait until lunch was ready, and when Mr Mills came out with lunch, it was basically done. She moved the drawing aside and smiled at Mr Mills as he set the plate down in front of her. "As requested, it's not pasta, cream and chicken." Brooke laughed and took in the dish before her.

It was actually steak drizzled in some kind of special sauce with a salad on the side. It looked amazing and was probably the only fine-dining meal Brooke had ever received that made her mouth water. As was the routine before every meal, she closed her eyes and thank everyone in her life for getting her this far. She then opened her eyes and started eating. The explosion of flavour in her mouth when she took her first bite actually surprised her, and she moaned. Like actually moaned. A full-on pleasurable moan. She would have been embarrassed if there had been other people in the restaurant, but it was just her and Mr Mills, who laughed at her response.

"Like it?" Brooke chewed and nodded before swallowing.

"It's the best fine-dining meal I've ever had." She said, and Mr Mills smiled.

"The boss will be happy to hear that." Brooke smiled before turning back to her steak.

"Well, he shouldn't go writing home about it. Praise from me when it comes to food amounts to nothing." Brooke said, and Mr Mills blinked at her, slightly confused. She smiled at him. "I grew up on cheap food, and I guess you could say it destroyed my taste buds."

"Really?" Mr Mills asked, generally sounding surprised and Brooke nodded.

"Yep. Whether it be from a sketchy take-out store or a convenience store, I've had it all." She could see the look on Mr Mills face and quickly corrected his thought process. "It wasn't because of a lack of money, It was just easier to feed everyone 50 dollars worth of fish 'n' chips then several hundred dollars worth of fine dining." Brooke smiled down at her steak, memories of unwrapping the fish 'n' chips packages and sharing it among her adoptive sisters flooding her mind. Mr Mills smiled in understanding before leaving her to finish her lunch along. Brooke did, enjoying the fantastic taste of the steak. God should give the chef an award for being the most incredible cook on the planet.

When she was finished, Mr Mills came wandering out with a little bit of paper and a computer. "Your bill." He said, placing the paper on the table. Brooke gave it a once over and frowned. Respond to reviews online? She raised her eyebrow at Mr Mills. "The boss doesn't like it when people pay, so he has them do chores instead. Your job is to respond to reviews." He said, and she nodded. A little strange but okay. Mr Mills unlocked the laptop for her and opened up the review page before leaving her be. She quickly got to work.

Some of the reviews were general and unoriginal, but most of them were about how great the food was but how 'prissy' the boss was. She read story after story about how inhospitable the man had been, and Brooke couldn't help feeling sorry for the guy. After all, it was his job to cook the food, not kiss the customers asses. She didn't say that in her responses, of course. In fact, she responded to every review with kind and caring words, sucking up while also pointing out how silly they were being. By the time she'd gotten through them all, Brooke had managed to make several customers actually changed their rating and apologise. Brooke closed the laptop and glanced at the drawing next to her.

She didn't really feel like taking it with her, so she instead put it inside the laptop with a little thank you written on the bottom. She then got up, bid farewell to Mr Mills, promising to come back at some point, before leaving the restaurant. She stepped into the fresh air and stretched. Overall, that hadn't been a bad lunch. It was far better then the cheap lunch she was initially going to have. Brooke took in a deep breath and let it out, before turning on her heel and making her down the stairs and back to the apartment. Only, her journey back home was abruptly stopped when she tripped on the last step and fell into a firm and solid chest. The impact was hard, and she rested her hands against the chest to balance herself. Longs arms wrapped around her waist, steadying her and preventing her from falling. She opened her eyes and found herself staring into a pair of familiar violet-blue ones.

Victor was looking down at her, his frown softer then usual. He was dressed in a light blue polo shirt, his bare arms held onto her waist tight and he practically had her pushed up against his chest. Which was warm and solid under Brooke's fingers, which were sprawled across it. She flushed slightly under his gaze. "Victor." She muttered.

"Are you alright?" He asked, voice deep but slightly softer than usual, that hard edge she'd become accustomed to missing. She blinked then shook her head, breaking out of the trance she'd entered.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks." She said, and Victor nodded, realising his grip on her, allowing her to take a step back. It was then she'd realised he'd stopped time. Brooke opened up her hand and plucked a frozen leaf from the air, looking at it in her fingers. She felt Victor's eyes watched her movements, and she turned to look at him. They made eye-contact and she felt herself getting lost in his eyes. Suddenly, time resumed, and sound returned. The leaves continued to fall, but the one in Brooke's hand stayed where it was.

"What are you doing here?" Victor asked, and Brooke smiled at the man.

"I'd just had lunch at this place." She said and Victor glanced behind her. "The food is great."

"You should consider yourself lucky. This place is rarely open." He said, and Brooke frowned. Some of the reviews had been talking about that. "So where are you heading now?" He asked, and Brooke smiled at him again.

"My home. I've got an attention-starved kitten to go spoil." Victor nodded, putting his hands in his pocket.

"Then I'll walk you." He said, and Brooke blinked at him. He smirked at her. "Don't want you tripping down any more stairs." He said before he started walking. Brooke blinked then huffed, before running to catch up with him.

~~~~~

Victor watched Brooke walk, leaf still in hand as she talked about her upcoming art exhibition that would open in a few months. He found himself listening intently, taking down every important detail she mentioned like the date of opening night and how long it went on for. The conversation soon turned to something else, and Victor listened to her talk about that just as intently. Soon, his mind drifted back to lunch.

He hadn't expected Mr Mills to bring the woman into Souvenir for lunch and was even more surprised about why. Though, Brooke did seem like the kind of person to help someone who fell. He'd heard the conversations between the two and felt his curiosity towards the woman grow. She was an enigma to him. She was a joyful, kind and somewhat silly woman but talked as if pain was a fact of her life. And Victor, well, he was hooked...

 

Chapter Text

(Monday 27, April)

"Breaking news! Popstar Kiro has just announced that he will be making an album with rising superstar, Aria, who is also a figure skating champion, having won...." The news anchor went on about the collab and the public's reactions to it. The TV switched to clips of fans reacting with excitement and joy about the upcoming album and Aria felt a weight be lifted off her shoulders. She'd never been so relieved about someone else's reaction before. While she'd learned not to let people's opinions about her bother her in general, it was a little different when it came to fans. They were what allowed her to achieve such success and to cast them aside and pretend they don't matter, would be unjust.

Aria switched off the TV and turned back to her computer, seeing that her upload was almost complete. She heard her stomach grow and, faster then the human eye could comprehend, was suddenly standing in front of her fridge, scouring its contexts. She decided the bucket of ice cream would do for now and took it out, removing the lid and grabbing a spoon. Bowls were for wusses. She heard her laptop beep and was back in front it a second later. The upload had been completed. She sat on her bed, crossed leg and started going through all the information she'd just been sent.

Files about suspicious people and strange events and occurrences flashed before her eyes. She read them as she went before sorting them into that strange database labelled JF she had open. One particular file flashed before her eyes, and she singled it out. It was about the warehouse explosion Tessa had been in. The girl had finally filed her report. Aria eyes skimmed it over when they spotted one line that was highlighted. "She may have protected you, but she won't be able to save 'them'. The Queen will return." Aria frowned. The Queen? Them? She opened up a new file and started searching the database for references and discovered there had been similar instances, like Tessa's, that had occurred over the last month. Aria frowned and picked up her phone, calling Tessa. She didn't answer so Aria left her a voice message instead.

~~~~~

"A movie deal?!" Aria exclaimed, and Bella nodded. "But I'm not an actor." She said, and Bella shrugged.

"Doesn't matter. Director Young was impressed with how you'd help Kiro out on the set the other day." Aria blinked and thought back to last Thursday. She'd gone to Kiro's movie set as she'd promised and helped the man practice his lines. She'd gotten really into it, and they'd ended up having a blast. She hadn't realised Director Young had been watching the whole thing.

"I don't understand. What movie do they want us to be apart of?" Kiro asked from his place next Aria at the table. They were having another writing session, actually coming up with a few good ideas and lyrics this time, before Aria was scheduled to leave Loveland for a skating contest. She was to be the opening act and present the trophy to the winners at the end.

"It's an upcoming teen flick movie," Bella said, though that didn't really explain their roles. Aria and Kiro blinked at her with confusion. Savin sighed.

"They want you two to play the background couple the leads look up to." Savin clarified. Aria blinked. They wanted her to pretend to be Kiro's girlfriend on screen? She looked at Kiro and saw he had an equally perplexed look on his face. They then both looked back at their agents.

"What?" They said at the same time, and Bella groaned with frustration.

"You're being asked to play a couple on TV! How is that so hard to understand?!" She yelled, and Aria leaned back, shocked. But she couldn't help it. This news was shocking to her. One, she'd never been into drama, so she'd never really done any acting before and two, she hardly knew Kiro and now had to act like she was in love with him. Glancing at Kiro out of the corner of her eye, she saw he was smiling at her with brightness, having probably been in situations like this frequently. Aria flushed and looked away.

"Sounds fine to me," Kiro said, and Aria looked at him. He was still looking at her. "But I'll only do it if Miss Chips here is willing." He continued, and Aria blinked at him. He was letting her decided. Aria glanced down at her hands. It wasn't like they were playing the leads of the movie. They'd only be a background couple with minimal screen time. Aria closed her eyes. No big deal. She looked back up at Kiro and smiled at him.

"I'm willing." She said, and Kiro beamed at her.

"Great. I'll tell Director Young, and she'll send over copies of the script for you to read." Bella said, grabbing out her phone and standing up. "You two continued with the idea making. This album has to be perfect." She said before leaving the room with Savin in toe. Once they were gone, Kiro turned to her.

"Are you sure about being part of the movie? I know you were nervous about our collaboration being made public, and this movie deal could spice things up." He asked, genuine concern lacing his voice, and Aria smiled at him.

"Of course. Besides, it's not like we are playing the leads." She said, and Kiro nodded. It was then she realised how close they were sitting together. There were only a few centimetres between their chairs despite the fact they had the whole table to spread out. Aria ducked her head to hide her smile as she turned back to coming up with the melody as Kiro worked on the lyrics. After a while, they'd finally had put together a good sounding song. "These lyrics are amazing! When did you come up with them?" Aria asked Kiro, who blushed.

"Ah...the other day...at your rehearsal." He muttered, and Aria blinked at him. "You looked so beautiful skating, I just couldn't help myself." He admitted. So the lyrics describing a beautiful woman were about her? Aria flushed and lowered her head even more.

"Oh." She muttered, and Kiro hummed. "That's sweet." She said and noticed Kiro smiling at her from the corner of her eye, cheeks still red. Aria couldn't bring herself to make eye contact with him. Perhaps pretending to like him and be his girlfriend wouldn't be as hard as she'd thought.

~~~~~

"Here's the script," Bella said, throwing Aria a large clump of paper stapled together. Aria caught it with grace before setting it down on the table in front of her. "And Savin and I looked over the song, and it sounds pretty good. Come up with a few more, and we can start recording." She said, taking her place at the table. Aria nodded before swallowing the mouthful of fried rice she'd been eating.

"Okie Dokie!" She said before scooping up more fried rice.

"This 'album' and 'movie deal' better not interfere with her rehearsals." Mr Fain interjected, and Aria saw Bella roll her eyes. "She has to be at her best for the next Olympics."

"Which is still two years away," Bella said, and Mr Fain glared at her. "She is allowed to branch out and explore new things." Mr Fain huffed, sticking his nose in the air.

"Aria is a prodigy. Her focus should be on figure skating and nothing else." He countered, and Aria shook her head, tuning out the following argument between her agent and coach. Those two had never liked each other. Instead, she picked up her reading glasses and turned to the script, beginning to look through it, finding her scenes were highlighted to save time. It turned out she and Kiro would also be the best friends to the female lead, helping her throughout the movie. She was at the end of the script when her phone buzzed.

Have you read the script? - K

Just about to finish it! Why? - A

You'll see when you finish it - K

Aria frowned but continued with the reading. She soon found what Kiro was referencing. Towards the end of the movie, she and Kiro's characters get into a fight and soon makeup, which is seen by the lead female, allowing her to realise how silly she is being. The problem with the scene was there was a kiss scene. Between her and Kiro.

We get to kiss! - A

If it freaks you out, I'll talk to the director and have them change it? - K

Aria could just hear the worry in Kiro's text and couldn't stop her smile. He really was super sweet to take her feelings into consideration. He'd been doing that ever since that day in the alley, Aria realised.

Thanks but I'll be fine. I'm a big girl! - A

I'm super excited to do this movie with you, Miss Chips - K

Same, Super Kiro! - A

Too bad filming doesn't start until I get back T_T - A

We should do a video chat! - K

Okie Dokie - A

Yay! I'm so excited about it - K

Aria smiled done at her phone when a big bang started her. "I'm sick and tired of you controlling everything Aria does!" Mr Fain yelled, and Bella stood up.

"I'm her agent, it's kind of my job! Like how it's supposed to be your job to sit down and not ask questions!" Bella yelled back, and Aria sighed. They were still going at it. She had eye contact with Kenny, who was standing off to the side, looking ready to murder someone, and they both rolled their eyes. She then looked back down at her script. She was really going to act like Kiro's girlfriend and kiss him. Aria flushed at the thought before groaning and hitting her head on the table. What had she got herself into?

~~~~~

Kiro set down his phone, a smile on his face. He didn't expect Aria to agree to the movie kiss, but she had, causing him to blush. Kiro sighed dreamily at the thought, turning back to watching a video of Aria preforming at the last Olympics. She was even more graceful than at her rehearsal, with her costume adding to her appeal. Suddenly, his computer beeped, and the video stopped.

Kiro opened up the alert and found that the hacker he'd been tracking was suddenly active again. He followed the hacker through their code until he came to a black blank screen asking him to import in a code. After a few seconds of no activity, the screen faded and any trace of the hacker disappeared. His screen returned to Aria's performance, and Kiro frowned. He then opened up a new screen and took down what happened.

~~~~~

Aria's phone started ringing, and Aria shot up from her place underneath her desk where she was trying to reach the candy she'd dropped. She eyed her phone from across the room and started muttering some dramatic music. She jumped her desk and barrel-rolled across the floor before flipping onto her bed and grabbing her phone, answering the call. "This is Agen-Woah!" Her sentence was cut off as she fell off her bed, landing on the ground with a groaned.

"Ari?" Tessa's voice rang from the speaker and Aria groaned. A few seconds later, Tessa sighed. "You were trying to look like a spy again, went you?" She asked, and Aria groaned in response once again. She sat up and looked around the room to see everything was blurry. Frowning, Aria hit the side of her head once, and her vision cleared. She then grabbed her phone and jumped back on the bed.

"What's up, Tessa?" She asked, and Tessa sighed.

"You left me a message about some information I needed to hear?" She asked, and Aria smiled, grabbing her computer and transferring the phone to an ear-piece.

"Sure did." She said, turning on her computer. Once it was loaded, she opened up the file she'd created that morning. "It's about that Queen figure you mention in your report."

"You've already read it?" Tessa asked.

"Duh," Aria said before scrolling through the file. "So, it turns out there have been a few incidents across the world where people were 'sacrificing' themselves in the name of some Queen. The police all wrote it off as wack jobs declaring themselves to the Queen of England. However, your incident it the first one to involve evolvers."

"Really?"

"Yep. Every other incident just involved innocent and regular civilians. The people who killed themselves, all dressed in black suits and funky shades, seemed to be looking for something but there isn't any evidence they found it." Tessa hummed on the other side of the phone.

"Anything else?"

"Yeah." Aria closed the file and opened up another one. "I did some more detailed searches on Tony and Gabby McHens as requested."

"And what did you find?"

"Turns out, those skeletons in the closet are a lot worse than dropped threat and assault charges." Aria sighed. "They were involved in a bank robbery a few years ago that resulted in the death of three people, one of who was their son, Gray. His autopsy revealed he died from having a vine literally grow in his chest and wrap around his heart, bursting it."

"Ew," Tessa said, and Aria nodded in agreement. The autopsy photos weren't pretty. "So are you thinking one of McHens was an evolver?"

"No. They'd been victims of the bank robbery and the only two people to escape alive. The person who robbed the bank was shot by the police on sight. He didn't die though, however, the McHens decided not to press charges against the man."

"Strange, considering he killed their son." Aria hummed in agreement. "Alright, send it all over to me, and I give it a look over, see if any of it is connected."

"Do you think it's them?" Aria asked, and she heard Tessa sigh.

"Maybe." After that, their conversation turned to something more pleasant before they finally said goodnight. Aria looked out the window for a moment, watching the lights of Loveland help the stars light up the sky. The Queen...who was she? Aria turned away and closed her eyes. Something in her gut told her she wasn't going to like the answer...

 

Chapter Text

(Tuesday 28th, April)

A knock sounded on the reception desk, and Nyla looked up. It was Mira, and she was holding a bunch of files. "The documents you wanted." Nyla smiled and grabbed them out of her hands, putting them next to her before going back to the computer.

"Thanks." She typed out a few sentences, before pulling up Max Sky's psych exam.

"What are you doing?" Mira asked, and Nyla looked up at the woman.

"Checking on my patients." She said before looking back down at the computer and reading over Max's report. It said he was depressed and at high risk of becoming addicted to the pain medication. Nyla sighed. The man had been requesting more of it as of late, becoming deaf to the world. Lucien hadn't been back to visit yet, and his wife was still aboard and unaware of her husband's situation. Psych had put in a request to have him become one of their patients, though doing so would result in him no longer being Nyla's.

Without hesitation, Nyla printed the permission forms and signed them one by one, putting them in Max Sky's folder when she was finished. If no longer being the man's doctor would help him on a path to recovery, then Nyla was willing to let him go. After all, her role as a doctor was to help and heal people in any way she could. She then put away Max Sky's folder. "No longer going to be his doctor?" Mira asked, and Nyla nodded, going back to the computer.

"Yep. He needs psych more than a trauma surgeon." Mira nodded before turning her attention towards the pile of files she'd retrieved. "I don't get why you go there once a month." Nyla smiled and turned towards the files. She leaned forward and grabbed the first bunch, putting them down in front of her and going through them.

"Because they are just as worthy of medical care as everyone." She said, and Mira hummed before getting up and making her way towards the E.R. Nyla watched her go, frowning. Usually, the woman was a bit more nosy. Nyla sighed and shook it off. She couldn't linger on such things at the minute. Turning back to the first half of the pile, she continued going through them. They were the medical files of all the orphans at Loveland Orphanage, and she needed to familiarise herself with their medical history so she could give them a proper check-up.

~~~~~

"Thank you so much for coming, Nyla." One of the carers, Madam Kara, said, greeting her at the door. Nyla gave the woman a quick.

"Don't mention it. You know I'll always come if you call." She said, and Madam Kara smiled. "Besides, how could I go more than a month without seeing the trouble makers." Madam Kara laughed, and Nyla followed her towards the courtyard. The woman rang the dinner bell, gaining the orphans' attention.

"Guess who is here, children!" She called, and a second later there were a bunch of cheers as children ran up to Nyla, calling her name. Nyla laughed and took the time to hug and greet every single one of them.

"Are you here to have lunch with us?"

"Or dinner?"

"Will you continued the story you were reading last time?"

"Can we do an experiment today?" Questions came flying at Nyla, and she had trouble keeping up with it all.

"Now children, Nyla is here as a doctor today, not your sister." Madam Kara scolded, and all the children made an 'aww' sound. Nyla smiled at them.

"Tell you what? If your good during your check-ups, I'll sing you guys a song." She said and they all collectively cheered. A little while later, Nyla was set up in the health centre, checking out her first patient.

"Now Harrison, say 'ahh'" Harrison, a little boy with firey curly hair and freckles scattering his face, opened up as instructed. Nyla took a look around before taking down her findings. She then turned to Harrison. "You as a healthy as a new flower. The tonsillitis is all gone." Harrison grinned and stood up, hugging Nyla.

"Thank, NyNy." Nyla hugged the boy back before he went racing out of the health centre to go tell his twin brother, Hamish, the good news. Nyla checked out a few more orphans when Madam Kara peeked her head in.

"I hope you don't mind Nyla, but it appears we have another visitor today." Nyla smiled at the woman.

"Why would I mind?" Madam Kara flushed slightly.

"Well, he has quite the effect on the children." Nyla blinked. "As in they love him so they may become a bit...excited." Nyla chuckled, finishing off her writing about Sally, a shy but kind orphan girl. She then turned to Madam Kara.

"I've operated on a man who was bleeding to death while under gunfire. I'm pretty sure I can handle a few excited children."

"Now, that sounds like an interesting story." A smooth but familiar voice sounded, and Nyla stiffened. Lucien's familiar head of dark brown hair popped around the corner and his purple eyes locked onto Nyla's blue ones, that teasing glint very apparent. "Hello, Nyla." Nyla ducked her head, trying to hide her flush.

"Hello, Lucien." Lucien chuckled before making his way further into the room. Madam Kara blinked.

"Wait, you two know each other?" She asked, and Nyla nodded, smiling at the woman.

"She helped save the life of a friend of mine after an experiment failed," Lucien said, interrupting any attempt Nyla made at explaining herself. She smiled at Lucien but broke eye contact so he wouldn't see the pain go through her eyes. She may have saved Max from his injuries, but she couldn't save him from his mind. Madam Kara smiled.

"That sounds like Nyla." A knock on the door sounded, and Madam Kara made her way over. She exchanged quick words with one of the other carers before turning back to Lucien and Nyla. "The director is calling me..." She trailed off, and Nyla smiled at the woman.

"Don't worry, Madam Kara. I'll keep Lucien entertained." The woman offered her a grateful smile before dashing off. Nyla turned back to her files and organised them, feeling Lucien's eyes on her the whole time.

"I didn't realise you knew Kara." Nyla turned and smiled at him.

"Oh yeah. I've known her since I was little." Lucien frowned, a look of confusion passing through his eyes.

"How do you mean?" He asked, and Nyla blinked at him.

"I grew up in an orphanage similar to this one." Lucien looked shocked, and Nyla looked away. "I'm sorry I didn't realise you didn't know." She uttered, and Lucien chuckled.

"Why would you assume I would know?" He asked, and Nyla looked at him. Why had she assumed he would know? He seemed to know everything about her—her schedule, daily routine, what she liked to eat and drink. Now that Nyla thought about it, it was strange, but Lucien was a scientist and therefore an excellent observer. Nyla smiled and decided not to answer his question. She didn't have an answer, after all. Lucien seemed to realise she wasn't going to answer because he moved on. "So, Kara helped raise you."

Nyla nodded and looked out the window. "Yeah. When I was little, she didn't work at this orphanage but the one I was apart of. It's not located here in Loveland, but we would sometimes visit the city." Nyla looked down at the ground; a sadness overtook her eyes as she remembered those memories she'd tried hard to forget. "I was ten when I lost my parents..." She trailed off, flashes of a man laughing, her crying and her parents' bodies lying on the ground appeared before her eyes, and she couldn't bring herself to go on. She shook her head and offered Lucien a bright smile. "Madam Kara was one of the first people I met, and she helped me out." She looked back out the window. "In fact, she helped us all out."

"The rest of the orphans?" Lucien asked, a strange emotion in his voice. Nyla turned and smiled at him.

"Well, yes. But I'm mainly referring to my sisters."

"You have sisters?" Nyla nodded at the scientist and thought about those times she'd spent chasing Aria and Tessa around the little cabin they'd called home, Brooke watching over and laughing as they tried and failed to catch each other. Eventually, she'd step in and catch them all in a matter of seconds. But it was fun to try and outmanoeuvre the girl, to see if they could try and one-up her. They never could.

"We're adoptive sisters." Nyla looked back out the window, watching as the orphans ran around the yard, laughing and chasing each other. "While we all consider each other family, at my orphanage, we were separated into groups that would live in these little cabins. The people in your cabin were like your real family. We'd spend every day together." Nyla chuckled and turned back to Lucien. "Of course, on paper, we're are not actually related, either by blood or law. But it never really mattered."

A knock sounded at the door, breaking the peaceful and understanding atmosphere Lucien and Nyla had entered. She blinked and realised Lucien had come to stand closer to her during her little reminiscing period. He smiled at her, tucking a piece of her loose white hair before her ear, making her flush. "I hope I get the chance to meet your family one day."

Nyla never got the chance to answer because Madam Kara come bursting in and Lucien stepped away. She blinked and turned towards Madam Kara. "Nyla, I would like you to meet Coletta. She is moving to your orphanage in a few days." Nyla watched a little girl with pale blonde hair and striking light blue eyes peek out from behind Madam Kara's legs. Nyla slowly walked forward, kneeling, so she was on the girls' eye level.

"Hi, Coletta. I'm Nyla." Coletta peeked out a bit more, making her soft, baby features more visible. Nyla chuckled. "You are cute." Coletta flushed, and Nyla noticed her eyes changed to pink. She smiled. An evolver. She should have guessed if she was being moved to her old orphanage. "Just like you, I was raised by Madam Kara, and I promise you're going to love your new home." She smiled brightly at the little girl. "I did." Coletta smiled at Nyla and nodded. Nyla reached out and patted the girls head before standing up.

"Perhaps you could give her a once over while I go help Lucien out with his request?" Madam Kara asked, and Nyla nodded. She held out her hand, and Coletta hesitantly took it. "Come along, Professor." Lucien nodded and followed Madam Kara out of the health centre. Nyla picked up Coletta once they were gone and placed her on the table.

"I like your eye colour," Nyla said to Coletta and panic rushed through her eyes, turning them yellow. "Don't worry; I won't tell anyone," Nyla said, putting a finger to her lips and Coletta titled her head. Nyla did a quick glance around before leaning in close to the shy little girl. "I can change too." She then willed her white hair to change a light shade of blue and knew it had worked when Coletta's eyes lit up. Nyla winked before letting her hair return to normal. The examination went on as usual, and Nyla discovered that Coletta was mute. A little while after the examination, Madam Kara returned with Lucien. "All done?" She asked, and Lucien nodded.

"Yes." He turned to Madam Kara. "As always, you've been as helpful as ever." He said, bowing his head slightly. Madam Kara flushed and waved him off.

"Stop being so formal, professor." She giggled nervously then turned her attention to Nyla. "Oh, Nyla. It's lunchtime, and you have a song to sing, remember?" Nyla smiled and set Coletta on the ground, handing her the lollipop she'd been unwrapping. Coletta took it and sucked on it happily.

"Of course. How could I forget?" She smiled and followed Madam Kara and Coletta out of the room. She stopped at the doorway and turned to Lucien, who was simply watching her. "Are you going to join us?" Lucien blinked then smiled at her.

"Of course, I wouldn't miss it."

~~~~~

Lucien sat on the ground, one of the young orphans resting in his lap, watching as Nyla strummed on the guitar, her soft voice singing the words of a beautiful yet tragic lullaby. Like the orphans, Lucien was enhanced and couldn't look away. Nyla looked simply stunning, her colour filling up the room as she matched every note perfectly with her angelic voice.

Still, his mind wandered back to their conversation earlier, specifically the pain that had gone through her eyes at the mention of her parents. He could understand her pain but still, he'd had trouble ignoring the guilt that had coursed through him at that moment, knowing that he was going to cause her more pain. He felt his heartbeat increase as Nyla made eye contact with him and smiled. The guilt in his heart increased.

~~~~~

In the darkness of a patient's room stood a lone woman. She was dressed in a nurse uniform and was scrolling through her contact list, the phone's light being the thing in the room lighting up her face. When she'd reached the necessary number, she pressed call and held up the phone to her ear. "Speak." A robotic voice said.

"I've found a potential candidate." The woman said, tone devoid of all emotion, sounding just as robotic as the voice that answered her.

"Name." A sinister grin crawled onto her face, and she glanced at the sleeping figure below her.

"Max Sky." There were a few seconds of dead silence before the voice spoke up again.

"Keep monitoring him." The woman ran her hand along the sleeping Max's face, his features contorting into pain at her touch.

"Yes, sir." She then hung up the phone and put it back into her pocket. She lifted her hand away from Max's face, and the pained expression disappeared. Suddenly, the sinister grin faded, and she walked out of the room like nothing had ever happened...

 

Chapter Text

(Tuesday 28th, April)

"So the bank robber was just some punk criminal and nothing to be worried about." Officer Landsman's voice dispersed throughout the air, and suddenly a large file landed on top of Tessa's desk with a loud thud, startling her. She looked up to see Officer Landsman's smirking face. "Not sure why you even had him checked out."

"Gavin thought it necessary, and you wouldn't go against your superior, would you?" Tessa asked, and a look of panic went over the round police officer's face at the mention of Gavin's name.

"O-of course not." He stuttered, and Tessa smiled, grabbing the giant file.

"Great. I hear Office Lowe needs some assistance so why don't you go help her?" Officer Landsman blinked then nodded and made his way out of her office and over to the young policewoman. Once the door was closed, Tessa looked down at the giant file and groaned. This was going to be hell.

"Need help?" Gavin's voice entered her eyes, and Tessa looked up at her partner, who was peeking through her office door, smiling awkwardly.

"Yes, please." She begged, and Gavin offered her a small smile, walking in, pulling over a chair and taking a seat before taking the file and opening it up. Tessa decided not to question him on doing the whole thing and turned back to the information Aria had gathered for her about the McHens. It was very conflicting. On the outside, they were friendly and kind people who'd experience sadness. They'd gotten married, had a son who'd grown up to have kids of his own before being tragically murdered in that bank robbery.

But dig a little deeper, and they suddenly have dropped threat and assault charges against them, strange business trips around the globe and had essential careers in the government. They hardly mourned their son's death and had no contact with their grandchildren. Then there was their connection to that bank robber who could have been an evolver. They hadn't pressed charges against the man for killing their son. It was all so strange. What was stranger is their connection to the multi-pile car crash. It was apparent they'd been the real targets, but why? And what was the deal with the warehouse Gavin and her had been lead to? And this whole 'Queen' business. Tessa groaned and banged her head on the table.

"Everything alright?" Gavin asked, "Are you having trouble reading it all?" Tessa sighed.

"No, it's just...Why is this case so hard to solve?"

"How do you mean?" Tessa raised her head.

"I mean, why killed Tony and Gabby in such a horrific way? If somebody wanted to kill them, a hit would have been simpler and cleaner."

"But it wouldn't have been as public." A different voice whispered into her ear, and Tessa jumped out of her seat at the shiver that went down her spine. She spun around to see Brooke standing there, a massive grin on her face.

"What are you doing here?!" Tessa asked and Brooke blinked innocently.

"I'm here to visit my little sister."

"How did you even get in here?"

"I'm going to pretend you didn't ask that."

"What do you mean it wouldn't have been as public?" Gavin asked, preventing the incoming argument from breaking out. Brooke smiled at him, ignoring Tessa, who was seething.

"A disguised hit isn't nearly as news breaking as a multi-pile car crash in the middle of the day." She clarified, and Tessa blinked. She was right. Everyone, including Aria, had seen it on TV and Aria never watches TV.

"But why the media attention?" Brooke smiled at Tessa, though it had a bit of sadness to it.

"To get your attention." Tessa blinked.

"My attention?" Brooke nodded.

"Yeah. Remember that guy's last words. 'She may have protected you, but she won't be able to save 'them'. Well, I believe he was talking about you. I mean, you had just saved Gavin, right? And you started your job again because of the massive car crash." Brooke said, and Tessa lowered her head.

"I guess."

"No guesses, I'm completely right, and I'll prove it." Tessa looked up when a photo was suddenly shoved in her face. She grabbed it and lowered it. It was a picture of her at her local laundry mat. It had Aria and Brooke in it, helping Tessa figure out how the laundry machines worked with Nyla having taken the picture. It had been Monday the 6th, the day she'd officially moved into her new apartment. And the last day all four of them had spent together.

"I don't see-"

"Look closer." Brooke's finger pointed out an old couple in the background, who was sitting at the table, watching Aria muck around with Tessa yelling at her and Brooke laughing, smiles on their face. Tessa looked closer and recognised their features. It was Tony and Gabby McHens. She'd recognised them anywhere after staring at their faces for the past week and a bit.

"Oh. My. Gods." Gavin gave her a look at her use of 'gods', but she ignored it. "Does that mean they have been watching me and I didn't realise?" Brooke shook her head.

"Probably not in the way your thinking. I'd say they were assigned by someone to keep track of when you'd start your job. By who? I couldn't say. Probably the same people who are after this 'Queen'"

"Black Swan," Gavin muttered, and Tessa tensed at the name, turning to him.

"What did you say?" He looked at her and Brooke before wandering over to his makeshift-desk, grabbing a file and coming back. He then eyed Brooke.

"I probably shouldn't tell you this, but you seem to know what you're doing so I guess it's okay." He then opened up his folder. "Black Swan is an organisation that exists in the shadows. Not much is known about them other than the fact that they're obsessed with 'Evolvers'." He glanced at Brooke. "An evolver-"

"I know what an evolver is. I'm one myself, as is Tessa, Nyla and Aria." She interrupted him, looking serious for once. Tessa frowned and ignored Gavin's shocked expression. Black Swan. It couldn't be...But what could they want with her? "So, you don't know what Black Swan wants?"

"No, but S.T.F. is determined to figure it out." Tessa blinked.

"S.T.F.?"

"Special Task Force." Brooke and Gavin said at the same time, and Tessa felt even more confused.

"I'm sorry?" She asked, and Gavin sighed, continuing to eye Brooke with suspicion.

"I'm not a police officer, I'm actually an Evol Agent. Working here is to cover up my real mission of protecting Evolvers around the world. S.T.F. are the ones that handled and hand out my missions." Tessa blinked then nodded.

"So that's what you were doing last week?" Tessa asked, and Gavin nodded.

"Yes, but I would like to know how you know?" He turned to Brooke only to discover she was gone like she'd just been an illusion. Gavin blinked, surprised and Tessa sighed. She hated it when Brooke pulled ninja crap like that.

"Don't worry," She said, gaining Gavin's attention. "Brooke isn't a spy or anything like that. Like I said last saturday, this use to be her life." Gavin blinked, still confused but the suspicion faded from his face. "What I find more concerning is Black Swan." Gavin nodded.

"Yes, it would seem the McHens were members." Tessa frowned. But why would Black Swan kill off their own members? What purpose did it serve them? Was it possible that Tony and Gabby knew too much or were planning something they disagreed with? The organisation was very strict and swift when it came to defending their beliefs. It's what made them so dangerous. Tessa sighed. What was even more troubling was the whole 'Queen' stuff and their focus on her. "If the McHens were members, it would mean you're in danger," Gavin said, and Tessa blinked at him. She'd forgotten about that.

"Don't worry. I'm more than capable of protecting myself." She smiled at Gavin. "I'm an evolver, like you, rememeber.?" She then winked at him and held up her wrist, which still had the ginkgo bracelet he'd given her around it. "And you can track me, right?" Gavin smiled at her.

"Yes. As long as your in the wind, I can feel you."

~~~~~

Tessa paced back and forth in front of her couch. Black Swan. Could they really be responsible for all the strange stuff happening around Loveland? If they were, then, they were planning something big. Tessa sighed. Looks like she had to report it in. Tessa moved over to her kitchen bench and pressed a small, disguised button under the counter. Suddenly, the polished marble surface had a split down the centre. Then it was breaking apart, the sides disappearing into the wall and a massive black screen raised up out of the counter. It lit up, and several, smaller screens emerged from it. The computer screens started displaying all kinds of different information that Tessa didn't take any notice off.

The main screen had a strange logo of a green rose with the letters JF in the centre of it. Tessa pressed the screen, and it changed to soundbars.

"Identify yourself." A female robotic voice asked.

"Agent P-4. Codename: Nasia. Recall Code: 0453." Tessa responded, sounding as if she'd done this a hundred times.

"Scan finger." The female voice asked, and a thumb scanner raised out of the counter. Tessa scanned her thumb, and it turned green at her accepted thumb scan. "Scan accepted. Welcome back, P-4."

"Thanks, Z.A.Y.D.A." A home screen showed up on the big screen, and Tessa quickly navigated it, finding the option she wanted quickly. "How has your mission been?" Z.A.Y.D.A's voice asked, and Tessa smiled at the AI's attempt at conversation.

"I'm making a report right now."

"Contacting T2 Weston." Z.A.Y.D.A's voice rung out and Tessa sighed. Figured she'd contact him. A call overcame the black computer screen.

"Thanks, Z.A.Y.D.A." Tessa muttered sarcastically, knowing the AI wouldn't hear her. The call went through and an aging man with grey hair, wrinkles and a horrible scar across his nose, misshaping the end of his lip, appeared on the screen. He looked pissed off like always.

"Agent P-4." He said, voice ruff and tone flat. Tessa rolled her eyes.

"T2 Weston." The man ignored her mocking tone.

"State your report." Tessa sighed. As much as she hated Weston, he needed to know what she'd discovered.

"Contact with the subject has been confirmed. The targets worked for the subject and were killed by them. No motive found yet."

"Not surprising. Black Swan isn't careless." Weston voice responded and Tessa bit back her retort. "What about this 'Queen' business?"

"Nothing to report. No leads have been found on the identity of the Queen." Weston nodded.

"And your evol?" Tessa sighed.

"Stable and functioning perfectly. No fluctuations or outbreaks." Which was true. Tessa's evol was very stable compared to Aria's. Weston nodded.

"Very well. Continue with your investigation and upload your report in full detail." Tessa nodded and went to end the call when Weston spoke up again. "And Agent P-4?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Tell your sisters to report in once in a while." Tessa flushed and nodded, ending the call. She wasn't surprised Aria, Nyla or Brooke weren't reporting in. They weren't the good little soldier Tessa was. Yes, Aria checked out the JF database regularly, and Nyla treated injured agents when necessary, but they weren't bowing down on their knees to JF. Brooke was the worse, Tessa didn't think she'd ever done a report in her life. Which was funny, considering her career literally consisted of writing. Tessa quickly typed up her report before logging off. The computer screens lowered back into the counter and closed over like nothing had happened.

She sighed and made her way over to her couch, flopping herself onto it. She seriously doubted this whole 'Queen' business and that car crash would just go away on their own. They were most likely ripples of a bigger and more dangerous wave Black Swan were planning. Well, whatever they were planning to do, Tessa would stop them. It was what she'd dedicated her life to doing. As a member of Jade Flower, it was her job to protect Evolvers and human's alike from the dangers they posed to each other and themselves. She didn't care if she died trying.

~~~~~

"So, you having nothing of value to report?" The Commanders' voice rang, throughout the room, and Gavin shook his head.

"I've confirmed that Black Swan's activity is increasing and that they were responsible for killing off Tony and Gabby McHens after they betrayed their location to us in that heist last month," Gavin confirmed, and the Commander huffed.

"Not surprising. They knew the risk of betrayal and yet went through with it anyway. Their deaths are their own fault." Gavin frowned at the man's tone but didn't question the man. "What about this Tessa?"

"I've told her of my position as an Evol Agent, and she didn't seem surprised at Black Swan's involvement, suggesting she already knew of them." While Gavin's face was indifferent on the outside, he was worried on the inside. Tessa's, as well as Brooke's, lack of shock or panic at the mention of Black Swan, told Gavin that they knew of the organisation. The Commander might have been right about who they worked for.

"I'd like for you to keep monitoring her and reporting back to me about it." This time, Gavin did frown.

"Is that really necessary?" The Commander glared at him.

"Yes. Just because she doesn't work for Black Swan does not devoid her of suspicion." The Commander looked away from Gavin, not allowing him to see the evil grin that crept onto his face. "I need to be absolutely sure of who she is."

"And who do you think she is?" Gavin asked, picking up on the strange tone to Leto's voice. The Commander turned back towards him, face indifferent, no trace of that smile a second before.

"A potential ally, of course." Gavin frowned but nodded. A second later, he was dismissed. Gavin wandered along the hall towards the garage where he kept his bike before stopping and heading towards the data information room instead. Once inside, he did a quick search of Loveland High School, focusing on his last year in high school. He needed to be entirely sure of his theory. He picked out an article and read the top.

'Local Orphanage Does Trial Enrollment at Loveland High School.'

He scrolled through the article before he landed on a picture, the sight making his heart race. He knew it. She was the same girl who'd helped him all those years ago. An all too familiar memory of golden ginkgo leaves, a grand piano and a girl singing flashed through his mind, and Gavin was absolutely certain. He had to protect Tessa at all costs...

Chapter Text

(Thursday 30th, April)

Sighing, Brooke closed the door to her apartment before locking it. Another fruitless night of watching over the city. She made her way to the kitchen, grabbing out of the carton of milk and drinking straight from it. She needed it. She put it back in the fridge once she was done and made her way over to her bedroom. As she expected, Haya was peacefully sleeping on the end of the bed, dead to the world. Brooke smiled. The kitten could probably sleep through a nuclear explosion. She glanced at the clock—5 in the morning. She made her way into the bathroom to take a shower and banish the oncoming drowsiness.

Black Swan. She wasn't surprised that they were here in Loveland. That organisation had their hands in everything. She was shocked that they would target Tessa, though. Why? Sure, the girl had skills and her evol was pretty handy in a tight spot, but there were plenty of other people like that. Her role in Jade Flower meant she knew some important stuff, but any idiot would be able to see that she was going to take that stuff to her grave. So why? Could it be about the Queen? But Tessa didn't possess the Queen's gene. No one had for decades. Brooke sighed. Moving to Loveland was supposed to rid her life of such dramas not add more. She did know one thing, though. If they wanted Tessa or any of her sisters, they'd have to go through her.

Getting out of the shower, Brooke got dressed and walked out onto her balcony, enjoying the early morning air. She glanced off into the distance and watched the sun slowly rise over the horizon, painting the sky different oranges, yellows and reds. Loveland was pretty in the morning; it made her forget all about her problems. Soon, though, a trace of gloom overtook Brooke's features. Of course, Black Swan wasn't the only organisation she had to worry about. Last night's search turned up signs that 'they' were in town. And if they were, Black Swan was the least of her problems. Looking back out over the city, Brooke smiled. Of course, she was more than capable of handling both.

~~~~~

"Good morning, Mr Mills!" Brooke yelled, startling the aging man. He almost fell down the steps, but she stabilised him in time. "Sorry! I forget that I sometimes don't make a lot of noise to notify my presence." Mr Mills smiled at her.

"Don't be. I'm glad to see you've come back." He said, and Brooke smiled.

"Yeah, well I forgot something here last time and wanted to see if Victor had found it." She said casually, keeping an eye on Mr Mills to gauge his reaction. The man blinked.

"I'm sorry?"

"My tree drawing? I accidentally left it here and came back to get it." She said, smiling and sounding completely innocence. Mr Mills just continued to blink at her. She frowned and waved a hand in front of his face before turning to the man whose presence she'd felt approach her. "I think I broke him."

Victor simply stared at her, frown present, revealing nothing of his inside thoughts. He then sighed. "I knew this was a stupid idea." Brooke smiled.

"Yet you went along with it anyway." Victor simply closed his eyes, arms crossed but didn't respond. Brooke giggled at his reaction then broke out into proper laughter at the look of utter shock on Mr Mills face.

"I'm afraid I don't understand." Brooke put a hand on his shoulder, curbing her laughter, so it was back down to a giggle.

"I'm just messing with you, Mr Mills." He blinked at her. "I'm not really here for my tree drawing. It was a thank you gift, after all." He blinked again before looking at Victor, who was watching Brooke, a small smile on his face. The man then shrugged and smiled, deciding not to question it. Brooke grinned.

"Just go inside," Victor grumbled, walking past them and into Souvenir. Once he was inside and out of earshot, Mr Mills turned to Brooke.

"How'd you figure it out?" Brooke smiled at the man.

"It really wasn't that hard. I got suspicious after running into him when I was leaving the first time but didn't linger on it. But I kept running into him whenever I came around here," Brooke thought back on the several times she'd run into Victor while walking around Souvenir. She hadn't come back to eat but familiarise herself with the area. "So I did a little digging. After I discovered the truth, I comforted him at LFG, which resulted in him bringing me here." Brooke couldn't help but laugh as she though back on Victor's surprised expression when she'd barged into his office. It had quickly turned to one of annoyance had he'd been in the middle of an important phone call.

After he'd hung up, he had lectured her on charging into his office like she did it all the time, before asking why she was there in the first place. He'd been impressed with her investigation skills and offered to make her dinner. Naturally, Brooke had accepted, hence why she'd ended up in front of Souvenir. Mr Mills chuckled. "Well, you the first person to put two and two together." He turned and made his way back inside Souvenir. "I'd had to be told."

Brooke smiled at the man. "Thanks and sorry about that little prank but I couldn't resist. I just had to see your reaction." Mr Mills opened the door for her.

"Don't worry about it. I'm surprised you got him to agree to it though." Brooke rubbed the back of her wrist. She'd been surprised too. After they'd loaded into the car and Victor had told Goldman where to go, Brooke had begged the man to allow her to mess with Mr Mills a little, pulling out her puppy eyes and everything. Victor had gone slightly red in the face, coughing and looking out the window, muttering his agreement. They entered Souvenir to find the kitchen light on. Brooke followed Mr Mills to the door, peeking through it.

Victor had taken off his jacket and tie, leaving him in his white button shirt. His sleeves were rolled up, and an apron was wrapped around his waist. His usual frown had lost that hard edge to it and actually looked relaxed for once. The sun's setting light cast a nice backdropped, making him look more handsome than usual. Brooke flushed slightly. Okay, so maybe she was somewhat attracted to the man. He bent down, grabbing out a few pots and pans, his frown turning into a small smile. Okay, she was very attracted to the man. Knocking on the door to let her presence be known, Victor turned to her. "Anything you want me to do or am I to be a patient customer tonight?"

"A patient customer." He said without hesitation, and Brooke grinned. The man was defensive of his kitchen. It was cute to watch. Brooke saluted the man.

"Okay. I'll get my payment ready." She made to leave when Victor spoke up again.

"This is a reward for your hard work. No payment is necessary." She smiled at the man and nodded her head before walking out and over to the table Mr Mills had been setting up. She thanked him before taking a seat. She was suddenly very grateful that Haya has all the food, water and entertainment she needed. Brooke suspected she wasn't going to get home for a while. Dinner was soon served, and Brooke entered heaven once again thanks to Victor's food, though she suppressed her moan this time since he was eating with her. He'd just finished washing up when Brooke brought out her manuscript.

"Do you have a red pen I can borrow? I forgot to bring mine." Victor frowned her but removed a pen from a cup holder at the bar.

"Your working?" Brooke smiled at him.

"I'm going through Milo's corrections and saying what I don't like. On Monday, I'll go to LPH, and we'll go through it together before I write another draft." Victor sat down in front of her again, the apron now gone.

"Is this your latest book?" He asked, and she nodded.

"Yep. This is the second draft but its still a long way from being published. We go through the drafting and editing process several times to make sure the end result is exactly what I want." Victor watched as she made through the first few pages, content to observe rather than interrupt. After Brooke had done the first chapter, she looked up, finally noticing Victor's intense gaze. She flushed slightly. How long had he been watching her? "Would you like to read the first chapter?"

Victor blinked but nodded after a while and Brooke pushed her manuscript over. Victor got comfortable before beginning his look through. In the meantime, Brooke looked around the room, and her eyes landed on something that made her heartbeat sped up. She got up and made her way over to the glass case that had quite her eye, legs more as if she were in a trace. She stopped in front of it and gazed a the pin kept inside. It wasn't a common pin, very rare in fact, but the design was simple. A red rose with a silver dagger coming out of the centre. Suddenly, an all too familiar memory flashed behind Brooke's eyes.

Flashback

"Come back to the orphanage by sunset, okay?" Madam Kara insisted, and Brooke nodded absentmindedly, the twelve-year-old to preoccupied with the adventure laid out in front of her. She heard a sigh before the words she was waiting for. "Alright, off you go." With that, Brooke flew her carer one last smile before sprinting off into the park, laughing as she dodged people, enjoying the feeling of the wind in her hair. She got a clear area and started doing cartwheels, walkovers, spins and flips, releasing all the pent up energy from being in the bus for too long.

God, she lived for these Loveland trips. They only happened once every few months, so Brooke savoured every moment of them. Plus, it gave her a chance to get away from her new roommate. Nyla was a strange girl, hair stained unnaturally white, her eyes a dull blue and she was emotionless. She just stared at everyone and everything, no emotion flashing through her eyes. She ate and drank, but that was all. It remained Brooke too much of her old 'Nanny'. Madam Kara said the girl had been through a lot and Brooke believed her. She just wanted the ten-year-old to show a little emotion.

Putting Nyla aside, Brooke turned back to taking in the sights of the park. She'd wandered over to the nearby pond, watching as a mother duck directed her ducklings to swim beside her when someone bumped into her back, sending her stumbling forward. Brooke immediately swerved around, entering her battle stance as she took in her potential attack. It was a boy her age with black hair and wide violet-blue eyes, staring at her in just as much shock. Brooke frowned, staring intently at the boy. He began to look nervous and looked away. "Ah-ha! I win!" Brooke said, and the boy turned back to her, slightly surprised.

"What?" She smiled at him.

"You looked away first, so I win." He blinked before offering a small smile. But it soon faded, and he suddenly looked sad. Brooke frowned at the boy. "Hey, are you okay?" He blinked, slightly shocked before flustering.

"Of course! Why wouldn't I be?" He asked, frowning at her, and Brooke was sad to think it looked natural on him.

"It's just," Brooke hesitated. "You look lost." The boy blinked, surprised before puffing out his cheeks.

"I'm not lost!" He insisted, and Brooke blinked then smiled.

"Whatever you say!" She then turned and started making her way away from the boy. As she predicted, the boy quickly followed.

"Hey, wait up!" She stopped and smiled as he jogged to catch up. He then looked up at her, that frown still present. "Don't go wandering off, you could get lost?" He said, sounding concerned. Brooke smiled at him.

"Like you?" He huffed, flustered and yelled.

"I"m not lost!!" Brooke flinched at his loudness but never lost her smile. She giggled and took hold of the boy's hand, flustering him even more.

"Well I am, so you can help me get back to the police station!" She began to drag him to the park exit, ignoring the doting looks a few adults sent their way. The boy huffed but tightened his grip on her hand.

"Okay but only because you're lost!" Brooke never let go of the boy's hand as she used signs to find her way to the police station. It wasn't a long trip, and the boy didn't talk throughout it, but he did remain slightly flushed. Brooke stopped out front of the police station, letting go of the boy's hand to raise both of hers in the air.

"We made it!" The boy blinked at her before turning to look at the police station. Brooke smiled at him before noticing a teenager coming at them on a skateboard, the police chasing behind him. He was going too fast to stop or dodge them in time, so Brooke pushed the boy. "Look out!" He stumbled forward, and Brooke jumped backwards. The teenager skated right past them, not taking any notice. Neither did the police in pursuit. Brooke felt her cheek sting and reached up to touch it. Her fingers came back with blood on them, and she frowned. It was probably a rock, being flung at her by the zooming skateboard.

"Are you okay?" The boy asked, and Brooke blinked at him. He'd run over to her, not a scratch on him from his close encounter with death. She smiled at him.

"Of course!" Her watch suddenly beeped, signifying an emergency that she needed to go back to the orphanage immediately. She took in the boy before leaning over and hugging him. He stiffened, and Brooke took the chance to kiss him on the cheek. She then pulled back. "Thank you for helping me get to the station!" The boy blinked, in a daze and Brooke took the chance to raise his hand and drop her favourite pin in it. She closed his hand before jogging away. By the time the boy had come back to his senses, she was gone.

End Flashback

Could it be that Victor was the boy she'd helped so many years ago? Brooke turned back to look at the man. He was still reading her manuscript, a small smile on his lips, signifying his enjoyment. It was true that they looked the same. In fact, Victor could definitely pass for a grown-up version of the boy. Feeling her gaze, Victor looked up, his smile fading into that familiar frown. "What is it?" Brooke blinked then shook her head. Even if he was, it was evident that Victor didn't see her as the same girl, and there was no way she could prove it. She smiled at the man and wandered over.

"Nothing. You just look very relax while reading." Victor's frown deepened, and he sighed.

"That's because a certain dummy's writing is straightforward to read." He said, and Brooke rolled her eyes. "Surprising, considering how many typos there are." He continued, and Brooke felt that familiar annoyed anger creep up inside her. Yeah, he was definitely the same boy—both unable to admit how they're truly feeling.

~~~~~

Victor watched Brooke huffed and take a seat at the table, grabbing back her manuscript and finishing her editing. It was really a good story. Victor had recently been reading through her books in his spare time and thoroughly enjoyed her writing style. He smiled as she scribbled out Milo's writing. He then glanced off at the pin she'd been staring at when he'd looked up earlier. He hadn't been able to see her face, but her shoulders suggested she's was curious about it.

Victor's mind thought back to that day. That joyful, funny girl had helped him, deciding to make it seem she was lost when he wouldn't admit it to himself. She'd saved his life and showed a type of kindness he'd never received before. She'd stolen his heart without even meaning to. He'd kept the pin as a keepsake, determined to find her again. She'd disappeared so quickly that day that if it weren't for the memory of their holding hands and her kissing his cheek, he would have believed her an illusion. But she wasn't, and Victor was going to find her again...

Chapter Text

(Monday 11th, May)

The elevator doors beeped, and Nyla looked up from her phone. It was her floor. Putting her phone away, she stepped off and into the unfamiliar hallway, doing a quick look around before locking into the reception desk. She made her way over, dodging foreign nurses and doctors, who gave her confused looks. She reached the desk and smiled down at the nurse occupying it. "I'm Dr Correa, and I was paged by psych?" The woman blinked then nodded.

"Yes, of course." She turned and grabbed a file. "Max Sky requested to see you." Nyla frowned. Max wanted to see her? She'd assumed the man would be mad at her for transferring him to the psych level. She smiled at the nurse, thanking her and taking his now unfamiliar file. It was filled with all kinds of different assessment sheets stating his check-ups and medication. It looked like he was still on heavy pain medication, despite it having been nearly four weeks and his 2nd degree his were well on their way to scarring over. His 3rd degrees had to have skin grafts put over them, but they couldn't do that until his other burns were well and truly healed. She made her way to his new room, catching up on his file.

When she reached it, she knocked on his door to signify someone was coming in before opening it and looking inside. Max wasn't bedridden as she'd expected but sitting in a chair by the window, a peaceful smile on his face as he looked out the window, taking in the sun's rays shining down on the scenery. He looked like a completely different man from the one she seen just two weeks ago. He turned and smiled at her. "Dr Correa! I'd hoped you'd come." Nyla smiled at his seemingly happy tone.

"Hello, Max," She wandered into the room and shut the door. "I'm glad to see your up and moving." Max laughed and waved her off.

"Yeah. The pain medication does wonders." Nyla smiled and wandered over to his new bed, placing the file on his eating tray.

"Has your wife visited yet?" She asked, and Max smiled brightly at her, a complete 180 from his usual frown at the mention of his wife.

"Yep, in fact, she's downstairs getting something to eat in the cafeteria." Nyla was surprised. Had she not seen the state he'd been in, Nyla would think that he'd never been depressed. Either the meds he were being given were the greatest in the world, or there was something else going on. Nyla didn't show any of her suspicion on her face.

"That's wonderful!" He nodded before going to looking out the window. "Was that the only reason you paged me? To see me?" She asked, tone slightly teasing and Max flushed but shook his head.

"No, of course not!" He smiled at her. "Since your my friend, could you get me a few books to read? I'm supposed to start physical therapy next week, and the trainer says the first few days are going to be 'a bitch'." Nyla laughed and nodded. With that kind of language, she would bet Max was paired with Brian. He was a great physical therapist, but he wasn't afraid to tell it to you straight.

"Of course! Any books in particular?" She asked, and Max shook his head.

"As long as they are not romantic tragedies, I'm not picky." Nyla nodded and made to grab his file before stopping. She turned back to Max.

"I'm curious," She started, making Max turn back to her. "Why ask me and not Lucien?" Max's smile dimmed, and he looked down at his hands.

"He hasn't been to visit me for a while." He clenched his hands, the undamaged skin turning white at the force. "Not since the policemen." His smile turned dark, and Nyla felt a shiver go down her spine at his anger. "Apparently, I'm not important enough too him to put aside his work." He scoffed. "Those policemen were right. He doesn't care for me." Nyla opened her mouth to refute him but she couldn't. Lucien hadn't been to visit, nor has he asked Nyla about Max. It was like the man had forgotten Max existed. Instead, Nyla bid the angry man goodbye.

~~~~~

Nyla adjusted the messenger bag on her arm as she entered the library doors. Max hadn't been too picky with his request except that she couldn't buy the books, so renting them out was the next best thing. She decided to come to the actual Loveland library because the one at the hospital only contained medical-related stuff. And a recovering burn victim didn't want to read about the digestive tract and how to fix it in surgery, even if he was a scientist. She signed in before heading towards the scientific research area. Max worked with Lucien meaning his area of expertise was neuroscience. She traced her fingers along the margins, surprised at how many books there actually were.

"And why would a trauma surgeon such as yourself be looking at neurology books?" Lucien smooth voice whispered in her ear, his hot breath racing over her skin. Nyla flushed and resisted the urge to turn around and kick the scientist in the stomach. Once she'd gotten her fight reflex under control, she turned towards the man, noticing his lack of a lab coat for the first time ever.

"Hello, Lucien." She said, and he smiled that teasing smile at her.

"Hello."

"How are you?" She asked, and he breathed a chuckle.

"You're avoiding my question." He stated, and Nyla lowered her head in shame. She was caught with little effort.

"I'm looking for some books for Max." Lucien blinked, surprised like he'd forgotten Max existed. But the surprise quickly faded, and he smiled.

"How it the man doing?" Lucien asked, and Nyla raised her eyebrow at him. "I've been swamped with work, so I haven't had the chance to visit or contact him." To anyone else, it would have been a convincing lie. To Nyla, it was a poor excuse. But she wouldn't question Lucien on his treatment of Max. She didn't know the true nature of their relationship. They might have never actually been friends.

"He enters physical therapy next week, but it'll still be months before he's eligible to return to work." Lucien nodded.

"With you as his doctor, I'm sure he'll recover nicely." Nyla looked away, feeling slightly guilty.

"Actually, I'm no longer his doctor. He had to move to the psych floor for depression, and I've got more pressing patients to tend to." It was true. The other day, a bunch of drunk teenagers had crashed their car into a bus. One of them ended up losing an arm.

"That's unfortunate to hear," Lucien said, sounding sympathetic and Nyla turned back to him. "But I'm sure you made the right decision." He smiled at her, and Nyla felt all traces of guilt leave her heart. She smiled back. How did this man manage to quell any feelings of doubt from her heart so effortlessly? Lucien proceeded to help her pick out a few books for Max. Once she'd accumulated enough books to last the man a few weeks, she made to bid the Lucien goodbye when a tiny voice stopped her.

"It's that your girlfriend, Professor Lucien?" Nyla turned to see two little girls standing a few feet away from Lucien. One was smiling brightly at Nyla, looking fascinated while the other was frowning at Lucien, cheeks puffed as if she'd been insulted.

"She can't be his girlfriend because I'm his girlfriend!" The angry girl insisted, and the other one laughed at her. Lucien was looking down at the two with a strange sort of fondness. The angry girl turned to Nyla. "Who are you?!" Nyla smiled and bent down, so she was eye level with the girl.

"I'm a doctor." The effect was instant. The anger disappeared from the girl's face, and nervousness took its place. Nyla laughed. "Don't worry. I'm a doctor for grown-ups." The girl blinked and glanced at Lucien.

"So, would you treat Lucien if he hurt himself?" She asked, and Nyla smiled at Lucien.

"Of course! But that's something I hope never happens." She said, and Lucien smiled at her.

"But it did happen!" The girl insisted, and Nyla blinked at her. "He cut himself on some paper and doesn't have any bandaids with him so he can't treat it!" Nyla directed a look at Lucien, who was now smiling with a slight amount of nervousness.

"Is this true?" She asked, tone serious.

"I'm fine." He insisted, and Nyla huffed before turning back to the girl.

"Men. They think they're invincible." She whispered, and the girl giggled. Nyla stood up and pulled out a small bandaid with white doves on it. "Sit down." She told Lucien, and he immediately obeyed, taking a seat at the nearby reading table. He held out his finger and Nyla discovered it was a rather deep papercut. She frowned and bent down, taking his finger in her own to examine thoroughly. "This is deep, Lucien." She looked up at him. "What did you do?"

"He was trying to read us a story but ended up cutting himself." The happy girl said, and the other one looked at Nyla with worry.

"Will he be okay?" Nyla smiled at them.

"He'll be fine." She turned back to his finger and unwrapped the bandaid. She gracefully wrapped it around the cut before giving it a light kiss. She then winked at the girls. "A doctor's kiss ensures any wound will heal." The girls cheered and she risked a glance at Lucien to see he was looking at her with fondness. She flushed and looked back at the girls. "Now, about this story." The stopped cheering to looked at her.

"Yeah! He didn't get to finish it because he hurt himself." Nyla smiled and took a seat on the ground.

"How about I tell you one of my favourite stories instead since the silly professor hurt himself. It's my own creation?" The girls blinked then nodded eagerly, sitting down in front of Nyla. She chuckled then hummed, grabbing her chin. "How to start?" She muttered before smiling. "Oh, I know!" She made herself comfortable before continuing.

"Once upon a time, there was this beautiful, white dove..."

~~~~~

Lucien watched as Nyla started her story, using simple words to keep the little girls engaged. "Now this pure white dove was beautiful and loved by those around her dearly, but she was sad. You see, this dove, well, she didn't have any friends." The girl's face's saddened, and Lucien smiled. "She had three great sisters but no friends. So one day, she decided to go and look for a friend. She took to the skies and searched high and low for a place that could give her a friend. But everywhere she went, she was rejected." Lucien frowned. It was apparent that Nyla was the 'dove' in the story. "Why? They never said. They just knew she wasn't any ordinary dove."

"Tired from the long journey, she decided to rest in a giant camphor tree alone on the top of the hill. For some reason, it spoke to her. Perhaps it was because they were both alone." Lucien blinked, surprised. A camphor tree? Suddenly, a precious memory he cherished dearly flashed behind his eyes and Lucien locked his eyes onto Nyla. She couldn't be...? "But, it turned out the tree wasn't alone after all because underneath it sat a boy who was just as lonely as the dove." Lucien couldn't believe it. Was it really her?

Flashback

Looking down at the drawing before him, Lucien sighed. No matter what he did, his drawings were always the same. Flawed and lacking in colour. In fact, his whole life was lacking in colour. Closing the book, Lucien made to get up and leave the comfort of the camphor tree when a rare sight caught his eye. It was a girl wearing a beanie, hiding her hair, making her way up the hill. There wasn't anything particularly special about her other than the fact she was a palette of colours. It had been so long since Lucien had seen colour. The girl stopped at the top of the hill and caught her breath before looking up and spotting Lucien.

Panic washed through the girl's eyes, but it was quickly suppressed, being turned into nervousness. She swallowed before raising her hand in a small wave. "Hi." Her voice was soft and quiet, being carried by the wind to reach Lucien's ears. He smiled at her and waved back.

"Hi." She stood at the edge of the hill, shuffling nervously. Her sparkling blue eyes suddenly locked onto his drawing book and Lucien saw joy flash through them. She made to open her mouth, most likely to ask him about it but decided against it. Instead, she turned away. "Do you want to sit down?"

The girl turned back towards him at his question and nodded. She slowly shuffled her way over and took a seat next to him, as if expecting him to attack her. Lucien thought the idea ridiculous. He would never dare hurt something so beautiful. "What-" She cut herself off before shaking her head. "What were you drawing?" She asked, and Lucien opened up his sketchbook, not feeling the need to hide his creations from the girl.

"A tree." The girl looked down at his drawing, all the fear and nervousness gone from her eyes. Instead, they now contained joy and curiosity.

"It looks good." She said, offering him a small smile. Lucien smiled back. He knew his tree was terrible but decided not to call the girl out on her lie. She looked away and at the ground, a pink flush overcoming her cheeks. "Could...could you draw something for me?" She whispered, and Lucien nodded before realising she wasn't watching him.

"Of course." The girl turned and looked at him, offering him the brightest smile he'd ever seen. Lucien smiled in return.

"Could you draw me a dove?" She looked down, slightly embarrassed. "They're my favourite bird." Lucien nodded and turned to a new page. The girl sat and watched him draw a poor imitation of a dove, those amazing blue eyes never leaving the page. In the end, it was a rather lacklustre drawing, not at all what the girl probably imagined. But she didn't seem to care. Instead, she took the sketch and folded it up, placing it securing in her pocket. Then she hugged Lucien. "Thank you." She whispered into his ear, and Lucien actually felt embarrassment course through him.

The girl let go and ripped out a page from his sketchbook, grabbing his pencil. Then she was drawing. Lucien simply watched her, surprised at her sudden boldness. He couldn't see what she was drawing, but it looked complicated. Soon, she revealed the final product. It was the camphor tree they were sitting under. It lacked colour, and it was nowhere near a perfect representation, but Lucien found it perfectt anyway. The girl sighed the drawing 'dove'. Her watch suddenly went off, and she blinked, shock running through her eyes. Then she was gone, bidding Lucien a quick goodbye. She left the drawing of the camphor tree, though.

End Flashback

Lucien blinked, coming out of the memory and staring at Nyla. Now that he was genuinely looking at her, he felt stupid for not realising sooner. The fact that she was full of colour should have been the first sign, but it was blue of her eyes that really sold him on the idea. The shade was the exact same. Lucien smiled at Nyla. He never thought he'd see that girl again, but here she was, telling the story of their meeting right before his eyes.

He was surprised that shy, nervous girl had grown into the beautiful, intelligent woman before him. That was when the gravity of the situation hit him. If Nyla was indeed who they thought she was, then Lucien was going to have to cause this ray of colour pain. Sadness overtook Lucien face as he watched Nyla laugh along with the little girls in front of her. He then closed his eyes. It didn't matter. He had a goal and was going to achieve it, no matter the sacrifices... 

 

Chapter Text

(Friday 15th, May)

"Failure!" A masculine voice yelled and a young-looking Tessa, no older than six, flinched backwards like she always did at her father's voice. The man sighed. "Again."

"Honestly, child! This is not difficult. Just read the words." Her mother insisted, tone hard, and Tessa gulped but nodded slightly. She then peered down at the book before her. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't make sense of the few words on the page. The pictures made it even worse, and Tessa was even less certain about what the book was about than before.

"I-I don't u-under-st-tand the w-ords-s." She whispered, not being able to control her quivering lips. Her father slammed his fist down on the table and Tessa whimpered in fear.

"Not good enough! I could read novels at your age!" He shouted, and Tessa curled into herself, trying to seem smaller. "That's it! Go to the Chamber." Tessa sat up straighter and swerved around.

"No! Not the Chamber! Anything but the Chamber." A large hand grabbed her arm, pulling her from the chair and towards the hallway. Tessa turned to see it was her mother, that uncaring tone still there.

"Do not question your father, child!" She yelled, and Tessa flinched backwards, but she couldn't help struggling against her mother's grip, fear controlling her actions.

"I don't want to go to the Chamber! Not again!" She begged. Her mother halted, turning and striking her across the face with the back of her hand. Tessa cried out at the pain and cowered into herself. She felt a trickle of blood run down her cheek but didn't dare raise her hand to wipe it away, afraid even to move in case it upset her mother further.

"Do not talk back!" She yelled, and Tessa offered a small nod. Then she was being dragged down by the hall again. "You couldn't complete the task so you will accept your punishment like a good little girl." Tessa didn't dare respond. Instead, she waited for the fear and pain that came with beginning in the Chamber to start once again-

"Tessa!" A voice yelled, and Tessa blinked, snapping out of the childhood memory. She was currently staring rather intensely at a photo of an old but expensive mansion. She turned, and notice Officer Lowe was standing next to her, hands on her hips, looking thoroughly pissed. "Back, are you?" She sarcastically asked, and Tessa shook out her head.

"Yeah, sorry I was..." She glanced back at the photo. "...Reminiscing."

"Remember your days of beginning a rich little girl later and help me move these boxes!" Officer Lowe scolded, and Tessa nodded. She moved away from the photo and towards the boxes, shaking the unpleasant memory off. It was all in the past anyway. She helped Officer Lowe moved the last of the old case file boxes to the storage room, making room for all the new ones to be transferred to the case file room. "I can't believe we got stuck with this job." Officer Lowe whined, and Tessa rolled her eyes, setting down two boxes stacked on top of each other. "Where's Gavin when you need him?"

"Away on a case." Technically, it was a mission, but Officer Lowe didn't need to know that. The woman huffed and scowled at her.

"Bet you love being his partner!" She sneered, and Tessa rolled her eyes, ignoring her. "To be able to wrap your arms around that fine stomach. I bet his scalped like a god..." She trailed off, sighing dreamily and Tessa had to hold in her scoff. She had no idea. Instead, she merely offered the lovestruck officer a bored look. Officer Lowe seemed lost in a daze, probably day-dreaming about Gavin's 'fine' stomach. Tessa took the chance to bail from the storage room. She'd already delivered all the boxes, and it was about time her shift was over.

After packing her bags, clocking out and bidding everyone goodbye, Tessa started walking home. It had been a long time since she'd about her childhood, rather the days before the orphanage. She couldn't help but wonder what her parents were doing. Had they been released from jail? Were they doing okay? Even if they had been horrible people, they were still her parents, and Tessa still cared for them deep in her heart. That didn't mean she wanted to see them again, though. No, they were two very different things. Sighing, Tessa stood at the pedestrian crossing and waited for the lights to turn to green. In the light of the setting sun, the sights of Loveland were even more beautiful.

Tessa took the chance to look around and take them in. It was then she noticed a young man, not too far away from her, with auburn brown hair and grey-blue eyes. But what made him stand out was that he was wearing that same white-jacket that Gavin always seemed to be wearing, though this man's lacked a hoodie. Tessa looked away before he could notice her looking. The light turned green, and she started crossing it and making her way the opposite direction of her house. As she'd assumed, the man turned to follow her down the path. Tessa inwardly groaned. She did not need a tail. And what did STF what with her that Gavin couldn't ask himself?

Tessa allowed the man to follow her for a while, taking him on the scenic route to an alley she knew had no cameras in or around it. She picked up her pace just enough that he wouldn't notice until she was able to enter the alley with a good distance between them. She hid in the shadows, and a minute later, he rounded the corner and went into the alley. He looked around, slightly confused and Tessa took her chance. She leapt out of the shadows, bending and sweeping his feet out from underneath him. She took out her gun, armed it and aimed it at the man's face, putting her boot against his private bits. "Who are you?!"

"Woah, Woah. Calm down! I mean you no harm, I swear!" He said, sounding slightly panicked.

"Then why were you following me?" Tessa questioned, and the man laughed nervously.

"What do you mean? I wasn't following you."

"You've been tailing me for the last six blocks. I'm a police officer, did you think I wouldn't notice?" She asked, and the man smiled awkwardly.

"I was kind of counting on it." Tessa didn't return the smile and instead moved her finger to the trigger of the gun.

"What do you want with me?" The man gulped nervously and started stuttering, probably trying to come up with a reasonable but phony excuse.

"Tessa!" Gavin's voice suddenly called, and Tessa quickly glanced upward to see Gavin descending into the alley before turning back to her follower. "Are you okay? I felt you pull out your gun." He said, landing next to her.

"Yeah, just dealing with a stalker." She said, and the man huffed.

"I was not stalking you." He muttered, and Tessa rolled her eyes dramatically.

"I sure hope not! I don't need two stalkers." She offered back, and both the man and Gavin looked at her strangely. "What?"

"You have a stalker?" Gavin asked, frowning, with concern and anger evident in his voice. "Who?"

"Um, you?" She said, and Gavin looked surprised.

"Me?"

"Yeah. I mean, the way you use the wind to locate me is kind of like stalking, right?" Tessa said, and Gavin flushed slightly, coughing.

"Aw, how cute." The man below Tessa said, and she applied more pressure on his crotch, making him shut up.

"Be quiet, Eli," Gavin muttered, and Tessa turned to him.

"Eli? You mean you know this guy?" Gavin nodded, arms crossed.

"He is apart of STF." Tessa blinked then looked down at Eli. He was smiling sheepishly.

"Oh." She said, withdrawing her foot and putting the gun away. Relief immediately flooded Eli's face, and he made to get up. "I guess that does make sense since you guys wear the same jacket." Eli nodded and held out his hand.

"It's nice to me-

"But that still doesn't explain why you were following me?" Tessa growled, and Eli dropped his hand.

"Why were you following her?" Gavin asked, and Eli looked between the two before sighing.

"The Commander wants to meet her." He said, and Gavin scowled.

"He could've asked me to bring her in." He said, and Eli offered Gavin a small smile.

"He said you would reject if he asked you." Gavin scoffed.

"More like he didn't want me to know," Gavin muttered, and Tessa blinked. It sounded like this Commander and Gavin had different opinions about her. She then released the implications of the conversation.

"Wait, your commander wants to meet me? Why?" Eli smiled at her.

"It's best he explain all that to you." Tessa frowned but didn't question further. From what Gavin had told her about STF, they were a very secretive organisation, a lot like Black Swan. And Jade flower for that matter.

"Fine but I'm taking her," Gavin said, before grabbing Tessa's wrist and dragging her out of the alley. "We'll meet you there." He called back before turning the corner and rushing down the road, not giving Eli time to answer. Gavin dragged Tessa for a few blocks, never easing his grip but Tessa didn't mind. It was tight but not painful. They reached his bike, which was parked on the corner. He let her go and grabbed her helmet, throwing it to her. "Sorry to dawn this on you." He suddenly said as Tessa was clipping the helmet on.

"What do you mean?"

"I wanted to take you to STF when you wanted to go." He said, before looking Tessa in the eye. "You never showed any interest, so I assumed you didn't want to see STF." Tessa blinked then smiled.

"Gavin, I didn't show any interest because you seemed so hesitant in telling me you were an Evol Agent, I assumed you would freak out if I asked to see STF." Gavin blinked then smiled at her.

"Guess we shouldn't assume things about each other then." He said, and Tessa laughed.

"No, probably not." With that, she climbed onto the motorbike and held onto Gavin tight as he started up the bike and headed down the road that led out of the city.

~~~~~

It was a long ride, and Tessa shifted a few times, her bum getting sore but otherwise didn't complain. Eventually, they reached what Tessa assumed was the STF headquarters. Gavin parked in a futuristic-looking garage that had pure white walls with blue lines along the edges. Tessa dismounted and gave Gavin back his helmet. "Stay close." He said before making his way to a door that automatically opened when he neared it. Tessa gulped but followed him. Now that she was here, her nerves were beginning to build. She was really going to meet the commander of STF, an organisation she'd only learned about a little over two weeks ago. She knew hardly anything about it, just what Brooke had told her which was the same amount Gavin had been willing to disclose.

She really hated going into a situation unprepared. At least she had her guns. Walking through what looked like a metal scanner, Tessa flinched as it went off. Great. "Evolver! Evolver!" A robotic voice called, and Tessa sighed. The agent at the desk looked up at her, surprised and a little fear written over his face. Then drew his gun.

"Stand up against the wall." He said, sounding slightly scared. Tessa put her hands behind her head and did as she was told.

"This is unnecessary. She's cleared. Commanders orders." Gavin said, sounding annoyed. Tessa was pretty annoyed as well. She hated being frisked.

"She set the scanner off, sir." The agent said, continuing to frisk her. He wandered a little to close to the 'girls' for Tessa's liking, and she had to hold back her instinct to deck the guy.

"So does everyone else that comes through here," Gavin said, and the agent stopped. He risked Gavin a glance before turning back to Tessa, that terrified look now more apparent.

"Okay." He said, taking a step back. "But she can't take the gun." Tessa sighed but withdrew her gun and placed it in the man's outstretched hand. She had a spare anyway.

"Happy?" She asked, and the man nodded, backing up and pressing a button on the desk. The next door opened up, and Gavin grabbed Tessa, dragging her through it, not bidding the agent goodbye. Tessa couldn't help but look back, that fearful look on his face concerning her. What was he afraid of? The door soon closed behind her, blocking the agent and his stare from her view. Gavin led her through a few more hallways until Tessa was completely and utterly lost. Finally, though, they reached what looked to be the commander's office. The doors were large and seemed 'commander' like. Gavin took in a deep breath before punching in a code and scanning his thumb. He was quickly let in.

Inside, Tessa's eyes immediately landed on the tall, serious man standing in front of his desk. His hair was greying, and he had a scowl on his lips. His eyes were thin and narrow, and he had sharp cheekbones—his aura scream of 'leader' and 'power'. Tessa instinctively stood taller. "Tessa Pace. I'm so glad you've finally arrived." He said, voice deep and authoritative.

"I'm guessing you're the commander I've heard so much about." The man nodded.

"Indeed. I'm Special Task Force Commander Leto." Tessa nodded.

"I'd say my name in return but you clearly already know it." Leto nodded and stood straighter if that was even possible.

"Yes. We have been monitoring you for some time." Tessa glanced at Gavin, but his expression had gone to that normal indifference he always used to show around her.

"Why? I may be an Evolver, but I'm just a police officer, nothing more." Leto frowned.

"We both know that's not true." So they did know. Tessa resisted the urge to glance at Gavin once again.

"What do you want?" She asked, her tone hard.

"Your help," Leto said, before standing up even straighter. "Specifically, your knowledge about Black Swan."

"It's an international crime syndicate with a focus on Evolvers, what else is there to know?"

"Their location, their plans," Leto said, and Tessa chuckled, though it possessed no humour.

"Don't you think if we knew that, we would have done something about it?"

"Who's 'we'?" Tessa glared at Leto.

"You know who 'we' is." Leto simply turned around, grabbing a file off his desk and turning back to Tessa.

"Jade Flower." He said, opening the file. "A secret organisation dedicated to maintaining peace between Evolvers and humans through peaceful and dull means." His tone was mocking, and Tessa resisted the urge to go over there and break his jaw. It would seem STF knew the image of Jade Flower they projected. Good. They didn't need to know the truth. "Despite this, you guys have been at war with Black Swan forever."

"We simply monitor them, sir. Like you said, war isn't our style." Tessa said, and for the first time, Leto smiled. It wasn't soothing at all.

"And yet you took down one of my agents with ease."

"I'm a police officer, sir. I have to able to defend myself." She justified, and Leto nodded.

"Is that really wh-"

"What do you want from me?!" She interrupted, getting fed up with this stupid game of cat and mouse they were playing. It was getting them nowhere. Leto dropped his smile, annoyed at being interrupted but he didn't address it.

"Your allegiance." He glanced towards Gavin and Tessa resisted the urge to look again. "You and Gavin make good partners. Work with us and help us take down Black Swan before this 'Queen' business becomes bigger than both of us." Work with STF? Tessa really wanted to say no, just to spite Leto. Their whole conversation had made her hate the guy. But it wasn't her call. It was Jade Flower's.

"I'll have to discuss it." She said, and Leto nodded.

"Very well. Give Gavin your answer." Tessa nodded before turning and following Gavin out of Leto's office, not wanting to stay around the guy for another second. If she did, she'd probably shoot him with her spare gun. Once her and Gavin were a safe distance, she asked the question that was burning her tongue.

"How do you put up with that guy?" She asked, and Gavin looked surprised.

"That's your question?!" He asked, and Tessa blinked. Had he expected her to ask something else? "Aren't you mad that I spied on you?"

"Why? You were just doing your job." Tessa looked off into the distance. "And I was kind of doing the same thing so it's not like I can talk. And, while I am a lot of things, a hypocrite is not one of them." Gavin nodded and looked away. Tessa looked back at him. "So, you knew, huh?"

"Yes." He answered, simple and straight. Tessa nodded.

"Well, that's a relief." She said, and Gavin blinked at her. "It saves me the drama of explaining it to you, you getting upset and storming off, you realising you're being stupid before running back to me and asking for my forgiveness," Tessa said, and Gavin blinked then smiled.

"You watch too many movies." Tessa laughed and followed Gavin back to the garage. She was ready to get out of this strange place and finally go home.

~~~~~

A knock sounded at Leto's door. "Come in." The agent from the scanner walked in, holding a stack of paper. "Did you get the information?" The agent nodded, walking up and putting the stack of paper on Leto's desk.

"Yes, sir."

"And?" The agent took in a deep breath.

"Her power level is off the chart. She is far stronger than anyone in STF by far." Leto took the top paper off the stack and examined it. It had several Evol Agent's power levels, with Gavin's being one of the highest. Though, all of them failed in comparison with Tessa's. The agent was right. Her power levels were off the chart.

"And to think there are members of Jade Flower more powerful then she is," Leto said, that dark grin creeping onto his face once again...